Special Needs & Elder Care

Estate Planning is not just for the wealthy or those about to die. Estate planning includes making the decision of how you want your property to be distributed during your life and after your death. Estate Planning also includes assist every individual, regardless of age, in obtaining the government benefits they are entitled to such as the following:

  • Social Security Retirement
  • Social Security Disability
  • Medicare
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Medicaid
  • Veterans Benefits
  • Prescription Benefits
  • Pace
  • Food Stamps
  • Disabled Adult Children
  • Mental Health and Retardation Services
  • Children and Youth Services
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Services

In addition, those with special needs such as those persons with disabilities or who are currently receiving disability benefits, should consult an attorney to maximize their government benefits. For example, without proper planning dad may leave all his money to his disabled son. The payments of SSDI son is receiving will cease or be reduced until son’s inheritance is spent. With proper planning utilizing a third-party special needs trust, dad’s assets may be protected for the benefit of son while preserving son’s right to receive government benefits. SSDI should not be confused with SSD or SSI. SSD is not affected by an inheritance but SSDI, SSI and Medicaid are.

There are many different types of special needs trusts. Some require approval by the Department of Public Welfare of Pennsylvania before entering into the trust. When determining which trust is appropriate, consideration of the disabled relative’s physical and mental abilities must be discussed; the government benefits to which the disabled relative is entitled to or may become entitled to must be addressed; as well as the following: ability to manage daily tasks without assistance, work and salary history, current and future projected lifestyle;

Supplemental Needs Planning is complex and sophisticated trust planning. Other specialized estate planning include: irrevocable trusts, Medicaid trusts, family trusts; asset protection trusts. These sophisticated planning methods should be used only after consultation with an attorney.


Elder Law

Elder Law is a broad field of law including all of the issues of planning for those with special needs but also includes Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility disputes; Medicare payment disputes; Medicaid applications; Medicaid spendowns; preserving and protection of assets. It is unlikely anyone except the very wealthy would choose to give up government benefits to pay for their own nursing care. However, the rules and interplay of Medicare and Medicaid is complex and often confusing. Before t is helpful to consult with an attorney.

Elder Law also considers the physical ability of the person, including living with a person with Alzheimers, dementia, physical disabilities. It also includes determining the capacity of adults who wish to plan later in life or wish to change their planning. Lara Anne Dodsworth, Esq. has worked with families to provide legal competency evaluations of elder family members prior to execution of powers of attorneys, wills and other estate planning documents.