Special Needs Planning Annual Review Checklist
By proactively monitoring and updating your Plan and task list, you won’t miss important deadlines. If this checklist is reminding you that it’s time to prepare your child’s Special Needs Plan, we’re here to help you begin.
As you reach milestones in your family’s special needs journey, it’s important to review your Special Needs Plan each year. A “Special Needs Plan” is different for each family, but generally
includes a Special Needs Trust, education / transition plan, life care plan, benefits (or benefit eligibility assessment), education planning and living arrangements. By proactively monitoring and updating your Plan and task list, you won’t miss important deadlines or benefit windows. You will also “catch” gaps or important asset titling common pitfalls before they create havoc for your loved one’s public benefit eligibility and have the peace of mind that comes with sound planning. Please use the following checklist to identify areas that require your attention. If you
have “checked” any of the boxes below, please contact our office to discuss how to update your Special Needs Plan. Each family’s story is unique, and Special Needs Plans can differ widely. This checklist is a guide and not a substitute for a detailed consultation. Please do not hesitate to contact our office for help.
Special needs families should carefully prepare their estate plans and design a Special Needs Trust fortheir child. Thorough planning starts with the parents’ plan since special needs trust funding almost always originates from parent assets.
- I am ready to establish a Special Needs Trust and/or my own Estate Plan. Or, I have these documents in place, but need to review and update them.
Is your child between ages 14-18? If so, you are in the “Transition” period for education, government benefit, evaluations, and legal planning. Will your child enter a transition program after high school? If so, is the plan designed to incorporate job opportunities? Do you know if he or she is eligible for SSI, Medicaid, or DAC benefits? Are you considering guardianship or powers of attorney? There is so much to consider. We can review your circumstances and help you establish an action plan that’sready for your child’s transition to adulthood.
- I would like to schedule a Transition Plan Check up to address planning for government benefits, guardianship, education planning and review of my legal documents.
For parents who are going through a divorce, there are many important considerations to evaluate. Child support, for example, must be paid into a different type of trust so it does not jeopardize a child’s government benefit eligibility. Parents must also determine how to co-manage (or manage individually) guardianship, negotiate the length of child support, and maintain previously established Special Needs Trusts post-divorce. We often consult with our clients’ divorce attorneys to ensure these issues are properly addressed in marital settlement agreements.
- I am contemplating divorce / am in the process of divorce and want to understand how to ensure my attorney considers special needs issues.
KEY PEOPLE IN MY LOVED ONE’S LIFE
Guardians, Trustees, Trust Advisory Committee Members and Successors Is everyone you have chosen for your child’s long-term plan or Special Needs Trust still able to act? Do these individuals share your values and judgment, and do they have current knowledge of the person with special needs’ life? Do you have other children who are now adults and can take on any of these roles?
- I need to update the choices I have made for Guardian, Trustee, Trust Advisory Committee, Successor, Powers of Attorney, Executor.
Do your financial accounts, life insurance policies, property deeds and other assets properly designate beneficiaries? Is your loved one’s Special Needs Trust named as beneficiary (instead of
personally)? Have you completed an “Asset Inventory” to ensure you have captured all accounts, assets, and other financial interests? Confirm that your loved one’s assets (in his or her name) do not exceed $2,000 from all sources.
- I need to complete an Asset Audit to ensure that beneficiaries are updated and that my loved one’s assets do not exceed $2,000.
What does “Special Needs Planning” entail, beyond a special needs trust? Often, the Special Needs Trust is just the first of many layers of planning. Consider care planning, government
benefits, education planning, group living, waiver benefits, the PUNS list, guardianship, letters of intent and financial planning. We recommend a plan review every 3 years (or more frequently, if you desire) to assess whether your plan addresses your child’s needs.
- I want to review / design a Life Plan
If you have checked any of the boxes listed above, please arrange a consultation with our office to determine how to establish or update your Special Needs Plan.