People who have special needs often times rely on government benefits to pay for very expensive care and treatment. Medicaid is the source, and many of these individuals also receive Supplemental Security Income from the government.
With the above in mind we would like to take a look at the impact of autism from an estate planning perspective because April is dedicated to promoting autism awareness.
A lifetime of care for someone with autism can cost millions of dollars. Because of this Medicaid is very important to many people who are challenged by autism.
Medicaid is intended for people who are of limited financial means. So, people who are relying on the program must stay within upper financial asset limits.
It is quite understandable that someone would want to leave financial resources behind for a family member with autism or some other type of challenge. However, if you give a direct inheritance this could catapult the benefit recipient into another financial stratosphere.
As a result eligibility for SSI and Medicaid could be lost.
If you were to speak with an estate planning attorney about the above scenario you would learn about supplemental or special needs trusts. You convey assets into the trust for the benefit of the person with special needs, and the resources can be used to provide an improved quality of life. Benefit eligibility is not affected by such a trust.
There are some advocacy groups with online presences that provide some good information about autism, such as Autism Speaks and the Autism Society. Visit their websites to educate yourself about this rapidly growing developmental disorder.