Caring for a child with special needs brings unique challenges as well as joys. Developing a life plan for your child with special needs helps to ensure that they are well cared for during your life as their caregiver, but also after your passing, so that their quality of life or the services they receive is not compromised.
Special Needs Trusts can allow for supplemental care and funding of other benefits to cover the services that Medicaid does not cover in order to enrich and benefit the person with special need's life. Trusts can be formed as First Party, Third Party, or Pooled Trusts, and each has its own purposes depending on how the trust is funded. It is important to ensure that each of these trusts are developed properly because each have key requirements to ensure that current or future means-tested benefits are protected.
As your loved one reaches the age of majority, it is important to begin the process of determining if he or she will be able to live an independent life with minimal assistance from you as the caregiver, or if his or her care needs are greater. If independence is an option, then drafting Financial and Health Care Power of Attorneys are essential to ensuring you can assist in those matters when necessary. If your loved one will need a person to protect their financial and health interests after they turn 18, then a conservatorship will likely be the appropriate next step. Beginning this process before your child turns 18 will help ensure a seamless transition as your child grows.
A conservatorship in Tennessee is instituted when the court appoints a person to be responsible to health care and financial decision making for a person unable to make such decisions him or herself.
The court, in its appointment, will consider not only the person petitioning for appointment, but also if there are decision making capabilities that the person can make for him or herself. Tennessee has stringent laws to always ensure that the person with special needs has their affairs managed in the least restrictive means possible. This means that if a person with a disability is able to make certain decisions for themselves, the court will not take away that ability except in very specific circumstances.
If you have a loved one with special needs and are interested in finding out more about how to protect his or her assets now and in the future, call (615) 567-3471.