Special Needs Planning Annual Review Checklist

As you reach milestones in your family’s special needs journey, it’s important to review your Special Needs Plan each year. By proactively monitoring and updating your Special Needs Plan and task list, you won’t miss important deadlines. Please use the following Special Needs Planning Checklist to identify areas that require your attention.

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.

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 for their 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’s ready 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.


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.

Contact Us Today

Clancy & Associates, Ltd., is the only full-service law firm of special needs planning attorneys in Illinois. Our attorneys are dedicated to supporting individuals with special needs and their families. We, too, are parents and siblings of loved ones who have a disability and know how daunting and exhausting it is to go from firm-to-firm and provider-to-provider to find solutions and help.  Each child and family’s needs are very different — and we provide tailored, common sense ideas and strategies that reflects your goals, resources, and hopes for your family’s future security.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about our services and talk about your planning needs.