Golden Law Center
200 Highland Ave, Suite 302, Needham, MA 02494
If you are the parent or caregiver of a person with severe mental, developmental or physical disabilities, you know that it can be overwhelming to care for someone who may not always be able to care for themselves. You are your child’s strongest advocate, and you have accompanied your child to countless doctors’ appointments and attended numerous Individualized Education Plan and Individualized Service Plan meetings. What happens if you’re not there to do all of that?
We understand the relationship between finances, estate planning, and the ability to access to the social, medical, housing and other services which your loved one needs.
We will develop an estate plan with you that will protect your disabled child’s inheritance and still allow him to qualify for necessary medical, housing and other public benefits. If your child lacks the mental capacity to manage his affairs, we’ll help you with the necessary guardianship and conservatorship petitions so that you can continue to represent his interests into adulthood and will incorporate nomination of successor guardians and conservators into your own estate planning documents.
We know that caring for a child — of any age — with disabilities is a challenge. That’s why we want to really understand your child and your dreams of his future. Unlike traditional estate planning attorneys, we work with families to develop a vision statement for the child that can be used to inform future trustees, guardians and other people who may look out for your child when you can’t.
Our knowledge of MassHealth can help you in evaluating the financial benefits and downsides of government versus private health insurance coverage, and we will make referrals to insurance advocates and attorneys if you are having difficulty accessing existing private insurance benefits. We also can also make referrals to social workers to help you think about housing options, and can make referrals to educational advocates and attorneys if you need help accessing academic services or support from the Massachusetts Departments of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.
The purpose of a special needs trust (also known as a supplemental needs trust, or SNT) is deceptively simple: to simultaneously preserve both your child’s inheritance and his right to receive public benefits. The devil, of course, is in the details. A well-drafted special needs trust should be flexible, as both the law and your child’s needs can change over time. It needs to be carefully drafted to meet Social Security, Medicaid and tax law requirements. The trust should make sure that the trustee’s powers are clear and there is a way to remove an uncooperative or unresponsive trustee. You also need to consider when and how the trust will be funded and identify potential trustees who will both be compassionate towards your child and able to run the trust in a businesslike manner.
Our attorneys will work with you to craft a trust which will help you look after your child, both now and after you’re gone, and which is integrated with the rest of your estate plan.