Natasha Meruelo, Attorney at Law Provides Caring, Empathetic Legal Representation
Most adults could benefit from estate planning, regardless of wealth or income level. However, estate planning is even more important if you have a child with a disability. In addition to helping secure a stable future for your child, you also want to put mechanisms in place to ensure that they will be taken care of if something happens to you. Though this is stressful to think about, spending some time working with our special needs estate planning attorney now can bring you confidence and peace of mind about your child’s future.
We offer a wide range of estate planning services, including:
- Powers of Attorney
- Advance Medical Directives
- Health Care Proxy
- Wills & trusts
Natasha Meruelo, Attorney at Law has experience helping parents and grandparents of children with disabilities set up the estate planning documents that will best benefit their families. As a law firm, we are committed to providing clients with the caring, compassionate legal representation they need to feel supported. When you need someone advocating for you and your loved ones, we are here for you.
“Natasha Meruelo is professional, knowledgable and a solid attorney. She made sure I was well informed, prepared, and empowered throughout the court process. Having her support was invaluable. I am so grateful I followed my intuition and chose her to represent me. I highly recommend her!”
If you have a child with a disability, you naturally worry about their future, and whether they will be able to access the benefits and care they need to thrive. This worry can become even more intense as your child reaches adulthood. After 18, qualifying for disability benefits can be tied to the child’s marital status, the child’s own income and assets. Substantial income or inheritance from a family member or loved one can threaten their eligibility.
According to the Social Security Administration, a child’s disability benefits typically end once they turn 18. Adults with a disability that originated before they were 22 may be eligible to receive benefits if they meet the test for disability with regard to his or her condition and their parents are deceased or their parents begin receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits. These benefits are paid “on [the] parent’s Social Security earnings record.”
As you can see, maintaining eligibility for Social Security disability benefits and Medicare can be complicated, and a sizeable inheritance from a parent, grandparent, or other loved one can jeopardize the disabled adult child’s eligibility status. One of the best ways to provide your child with additional financial support without risking their benefits eligibility is to set up a supplemental needs trust (sometimes referred to as a special needs trust).
A supplemental needs trust can be used to provide funding for:
- Uncovered medical, dental, or vision care
- Caregivers and health aids
- Specially equipped vehicles
- Living expenses
- Educational expenses
- Legal expenses
A special needs trust can also be used to help provide financial support aimed at improving your child’s overall quality of life and for their personal benefit or enrichment. This can include things like entertainment, travel, and more.
Estate Planning Strategies for Special Needs Individuals
Approaching estate planning for the first time can be overwhelming. Your priority is to create a thorough estate plan that adequately provides for your child’s needs. Accomplishing this will require you to think through your estate planning goals and meet with a special needs estate planning attorney.
If you are developing an estate plan to benefit a special needs individual, we recommend that you:
- Keep an accurate record of all medical and occupational care your child has received and what they need on an ongoing basis, including any special medical or occupational equipment they require.
- Keep a detailed record of your child’s work history, Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid benefits, and any other assistance programs they participate in.
- Bring all relevant financial documents about your and your child’s financial and property holdings when you meet with your attorney, including the personal information of the child you wish to include in your estate plan.
- Ask your attorney to go through your legal options for estate planning so that you can clearly understand what is available to you.
Additionally, if you plan to name a guardian, or trust administrator other than yourself, make sure you have discussed this with that person before naming them in any legal documents. You may also wish to put them in touch with your attorney to help them understand their responsibilities and what will be expected of them should they step into that role.
We know that planning for the future is stressful, especially when you have an adult child with special needs. With this in mind, our goal is to provide every client with high-quality, detailed legal services that are flexible and responsive to each family’s specific needs. Natasha Meruelo, Attorney at Law is well-known in the White Plains area for our compassionate, thoughtful representation. We can help you develop a personalized estate plan that brings you peace of mind about your child’s future.