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Special Needs Estate Planning Attorney Proudly Serving Livonia, Plymouth, Northville, and Surrounding Areas

Estate Planning for Children with Special Needs:

While a comprehensive estate plan is recommended for all parents of young children; planning takes on a special significance for parents of a loved one with special needs.  The main parent concern, for their child, is usually ensuring that he or she will be well cared for when the parent is no longer able to provide care due to their disability or death.

Being a parent is an important job, and Matt Devitt Law, PLC will be in your corner throughout the estate planning process to provide counsel on the legal aspects, benefits planning, personal, and medical affairs of your child.  As a resident of Northville, and small business owner in Livonia, I will be here for you not just during the planning process, but also an advocate and resource for you and your family well into the future.

What are the Main Considerations When Creating a Special Needs Estate Plan?

While many of the estate planning goals will be the same for parents, including providing for your loved ones in an effective and efficient manner by avoiding guardianship during your lifetime, reducing probate procedures and oversight at death, lessening or reducing estate taxes and limiting unnecessary delays, there is also the need to ensure that your special needs child will be able to qualify for important government benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability (SSDI) at the time of the parents passing, and Medicaid.  If an estate plan is not properly drafted, the inheritance can viewed as income with can disqualify a child from these critical benefits.

Supplemental or Special Needs Trust:

Special Needs Estate Planning

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One of the most important estate planning tools is a Special Needs Trust.  Special Needs Trusts, sometimes referred to as (SNT), are trusts that benefit children who are disabled under federal law.  The primary benefit of the trust is that it allows the trustee, after both parents have passed, to make money available for your child to maximize his or her quality of life without affecting eligibility to important government benefits.

The government assistance eligibility rules can be very complex and it is important to work with an experienced attorney to ensure the trust is properly drafted and funded. 

Additional Planning Considerations:

While a properly drafted special needs trust is very important, we will also, as part of our comprehensive estate plan, provide guidance on the following.


  • Choosing the Right Trustee: Managing a special needs trust can be complex and it is important that the right individual is chosen with a good succession plan should they be unwilling or unable to complete the tasks in the future.  This can include the use of a professional trustee, family member, or trusted friend.

  • Trust Protector or Trust Committee: Since the beneficiary of the trust may not be in a position to get an accounting from the trustee, it is important that the beneficiary have an advocate to ensure that the trust is being managed as the parents intended.  A trust protector is given authority to review the accounting, make determination on whether to terminate, or simply provide guidance to the trustee.

  • Letter of Intent: The letter of intent is a supplemental to the trust and provides a deeper of understanding of the parent’s insights and objectives regarding the needs of their child and how best to take care for them.  This could include your child’s bedtime routine, favorite song, or best way to sooth during a stressful situation.

  • Special Needs Trust Funding Support: Funding a trust is an important step in making sure that your wishes are honored after your passing.  For children with special needs, we will work together and discuss which of your assets should be funded to the trust and which should not.  For instance it may not be a good idea to fund the trust with a 401k plan due to tax benefits, but instead purchase a life insurance policy.

  • MIABLE and Other Benefits: We will discuss in detail the government benefits due to your child and how the estate plan interrelates.  For instance, the MIABLE can be a good supplement to special needs planning, but it may be better for a grandparent, or other third party, to gift to the trust rather than to an MIABLE due to the payback requirements.  Also if the MIABLE account is above $100,000 your child may no longer qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

  • Guardianship and Conservatorship: We will also discuss in detail who would be a good candidate to act as the Guardian or Conservator upon your passing.

  • Other Important Documents: In addition to the Special Needs Trust, it is also important that your other important documents like the Durable Financial Power of Attorney, also grant additional rights to your agent upon your disability as they may need to update your child’s trust should a rule or law change for instance.

Proudly Serving Livonia and Surrounding Areas

Choosing the Right Estate Planning Attorney:

At Matt Devitt Law, PLC we understand importance of a properly drafted estate plan and the trust that parents place onto us.  There are few things in life that are as important as providing for your family and we look forward to doing our part to ensure that a well drafted estate plan is put in place to give you peace of mind that your spouse and children will be taken care after you have passed.

A bit about usMatt Devitt Law is a full service estate planning law firm located in Livonia, MI. In addition to estate planning we also provide legal counsel for small businesses and off a full suite of real estate legal services as well.

We work with our surrounding communities including Livonia, Northville, Plymouth, Novi, Farmington Hills, and beyond. Our focus is on providing pragmatic value based solutions for your estate planning, small business, and real-estate legal needs. Give Matt a call (734) 335-0713 for a free consult. We are also proud to offer full estate planning services virtually when requested.

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