Many thoughtful family members make estate planning efforts to help ensure that their vulnerable loved ones are cared for. Some of these efforts may go into effect while the individual who is providing support is alive and other efforts may not go into effect until after that individual has passed away. For example, special needs trusts may be set up to go into effect in either scenario.
As gracious and loving as the act of setting up a special needs trust may be, individuals too often move forward with this effort before stopping to really consider what their loved one needs or wants. Some individuals with special needs are not in a position to articulate their desires. However, if you have a loved one with special needs who is capable of articulating their needs, wants and priorities, you may want to speak with them about these realities before setting up a new trust.
The power of self-advocacy
All too often, individuals with special needs are limited in their experience due to physical or regulatory obstacles, biases and assumptions. Even the most well-meaning and well-intentioned loved ones may make assumptions about what an individual with special needs wants or requires without consulting them.
By consulting your loved one about their wants and needs before setting up a special needs trust, you can better ensure that the terms of that trust reflect how best to assist your vulnerable loved one. What you discover during a conversation on this subject may surprise you. For example, your loved one may express a long-held desire to get a college degree that they thought was impossible to obtain without financial assistance.
If your loved one is capable of weighing in on how they can best benefit from your trust-related assistance, it may be both kind and respectful to ask their opinion before forging ahead. Legal guidance can help you make sure their needs (and your goals) are met.