A Will is one of the most important features of your estate plan. Without it, the State will decide who gets your property and who will be guardian of your children. A simple Will can do the following for you: leave your property to the people and organizations you choose, name a guardian for your minor children, name someone to manage the property for your minor children, and name your executor. If you’re in pretty good health and don’t expect to owe estate tax at your death, then a simple Will may be enough. However, you may need something more complex if any of the following situations exist: you expect to owe estate taxes, you have a child or spouse with a special need, you have children from a prior marriage, or you think someone might contest your Will. In any of those cases, you should consult with an attorney to construct your Will.
If your spouse or child has a special need, you may need a special needs trust within your Will. Leaving money to your disabled spouse or child could jeopardize his/her government-assisted benefits (such as Supplement Security income (SSI) or Medicaid). However, a special needs trust can help prevent that from happening. Instead of leaving property directly to your disabled spouse or child, the funds go into a trust for his/her benefit. You appoint someone to serve as trustee. The trustee has complete discretion over the trust property and is in charge of spending money on your loved one’s behalf. Because your loved one has no control over the money, government programs like SSI or Medicaid will disregard the trust property for eligibility purposes. The trust usually ends when your loved one dies or all the trust funds have been spent. If you think you and your loved ones could benefit from having a special needs trust, contact our office to set up an appointment.