Planning for the Future of a Disabled Person
At 18 all individuals, including those with developmental disabilities, reach the legal age of majority. This means that parents can no longer make decisions legally on behalf of an adult child, regardless of the nature of the individual's disability and regardless of whether or not the individual still lives with the family. Several options need to be considered:
Health Care Directive and Financial Power of Attorney
When an individual over the age of 18 does not have the mental capacity to fully understand the content and intention of the Financial Durable Power of Attorney or Health Care Directive, their family would look to guardianship as an option for their family member. A guardian is defined as “a person or agency appointed by a court to act on behalf of an individual”.
In all cases, guardianship should be viewed as a solution of last resort, because it removes an individual’s fundamental right of self-determination.
Special Needs Planning
Debra K. Schuster & Associates assists our disabled clients with legal planning for their long-term needs. We advise our clients on how to effectively provide for their disabled loved one with careful regard for preserving eligibility for Medicaid and other public benefits. It is important to seek the help of an experienced attorney to have a Special Needs Trust or Supplemental Needs Trust prepared. Certain requirements must be met to eliminate the risk of being disqualified for public benefits.
The purpose of a Special Needs Trust is to supplement the public benefits received, not to replace them.