Daughter walking with her father in a wheelchair.

Special needs planning is a key process for families with members who have disabilities. It involves creating a comprehensive plan that ensures the financial and personal well-being of a loved one with special needs is secured, both now and in the future.

This type of planning is unique as it requires consideration of legal, financial, and care-related elements, tailored to fit the specific needs of individuals with disabilities. It often includes setting up Special Needs Trusts, making guardianship arrangements, and understanding how to maintain eligibility for government benefits.

What Is Special Needs Planning?

Special needs planning is a focused area of estate planning dedicated to securing the future of individuals with disabilities. It goes beyond traditional estate planning by addressing the unique challenges faced by families with special needs members. The primary goal is to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive the necessary care and support throughout their lives, without jeopardizing their eligibility for vital government benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

At the heart of special needs planning is the creation of a Special Needs Trust. This trust safeguards assets for the benefit of a person with disabilities while ensuring that these assets do not disqualify them from receiving public assistance. In addition, it involves making key decisions about guardianship and care management, ensuring that there is a responsible and capable person or entity to look after the individual’s well-being if the primary caregivers are no longer able to do so.

By carefully considering these aspects, special needs planning provides peace of mind to families, knowing that their loved ones will continue to have their financial and care needs met in a way that enhances their quality of life.

Key Components of Special Needs Planning

  • Special Needs Trusts: These trusts manage resources for a person with special needs without affecting their eligibility for government aid. They allow for the allocation of funds for various expenses, like education, health care, and personal needs, while maintaining the individual’s benefit eligibility. A Special Needs Trust is managed by a trustee who disburses funds in a way that doesn’t compromise government assistance.
  • Guardianship Considerations: Choosing a guardian is essential for ensuring the ongoing welfare of a loved one with special needs. This involves legally appointing someone responsible for making decisions about health care, living arrangements, and personal care if the primary caregivers are unable to do so. The process requires thoughtful consideration to ensure the chosen guardian aligns with the family’s values and the individual’s best interests.
  • Government Benefits Preservation: Navigating the complexities of government benefits like Medicaid and SSI is an important aspect Special Needs Planning. This involves structuring assets and trusts to ensure these benefits are not jeopardized. It requires a thorough understanding of the eligibility criteria and how different financial decisions can impact these benefits.
  • Life Care Planning: This involves creating a comprehensive plan that addresses the long-term care, housing, employment, education, and recreational needs of the individual with special needs. It ensures a holistic approach to their well-being, considering the evolving nature of their needs. This plan is often revisited and adjusted as circumstances change.

Legal Framework in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the legal framework for Special Needs Planning includes state-specific laws and regulations that impact how trusts and guardianships are established and managed. Wisconsin law requires careful structuring of Special Needs Trusts to ensure they meet both state and federal guidelines, particularly for maintaining eligibility for government programs like Medicaid and SSI. 

Wisconsin’s statutes regarding guardianship emphasize the protection of individuals with disabilities, outlining clear criteria and procedures for appointing guardians. These state-specific requirements make it essential for families to work with knowledgeable professionals who are well-versed in Wisconsin’s unique legal requirements to ensure that Special Needs Plans are not only effective but also compliant with all relevant laws and regulations.

The Process of Creating a Special Needs Plan

  • Initial Consultation and Assessment: The first step involves a detailed consultation to understand the specific needs and goals of the individual with disabilities and their family. This includes discussing the individual’s health, financial situation, and long-term care requirements to provide a foundation for a customized Special Needs Plan.
  • Designing the Plan: Based on the initial assessment, we develop a plan that addresses the individual’s unique needs. This involves selecting the right type of Special Needs Trust, deciding on a guardian if necessary, and strategizing how to preserve eligibility for government benefits, while making sure the individual’s long-term care and lifestyle needs are met.
  • Legal Documentation and Trust Formation: After designing the plan, the next step is to draft and execute the necessary legal documents. This includes setting up the Special Needs Trust, completing guardianship nominations, and any other legal instruments required to implement the plan effectively.
  • Review and Adjustment: Special Needs Plans require periodic reviews and adjustments to accommodate changes in laws, family circumstances, and the individual’s needs. This ongoing process ensures that the plan remains effective and relevant over time.

Contact an Experienced Madison, WI Special Needs Planning Attorney

At Borakove Osman, we’re committed to crafting personalized special needs plans with compassion and precision. Our team’s thorough understanding of Wisconsin’s legal landscape ensures your loved one’s future is secure. Reach out to us; let’s start this important journey together.

Borakove Osman, LLC is your trusted partner for special needs planning in Wisconsin. Serving all of Wisconsin, including Madison and Dane County, we are dedicated to providing high-quality legal advice and representation to help you secure your family’s future.