Protecting Adult Children with Disabilities – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning

One in four Americans has some kind of disability, and an increasing number of children are being diagnosed with some form of autism. The life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased from living to age 12 in the 1940s to nearly 60 today. Most children born with cerebral palsy live into their thirties. For parents of these children, it is more important than ever to create a plan and a community, says the article “How to build support system for adult children with disabilities” from The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Financial resources and support services need to be put into place, for when parents are no longer able to provide care. Here are the key points to address:

Preserving the child’s eligibility for government assistance programs, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid, through the use of a Special Needs trust. Any amount of money can be placed in the trust, and the funds don’t count when determining eligibility. If parents leave money directly to a child, they will lose their ability to get SSI and Medicaid benefits.

Start early. A Third-Party Special Needs trust should be set up before the child turns 18. It doesn’t need to be funded, but it needs to be created.

Be a stickler for the rules. If the child receives SSI, money from the trust may not be used for food and housing, but it can be used for other costs, like therapies that are not covered by Medicaid, or even extras, like a cellphone or vacation. An experienced elder law attorney will be able to help the family with planning and learning the intricacies of these rules.

Name a trustee and a successor trustee. Selecting someone to manage the trust on behalf of the child is a critical decision, and not always an easy one. The trustee should be someone responsible who cares about your child’s well-being. It could be a sibling, if the relationship is good, or a family member. The person should be younger than the parents, so they will be around after the parents have passed.

Open an ABLE Account—Achieving a Better Life Experience account. These are accounts that work in much the same way as a 529 account. They can be established for a disabled person at any time, but the child must have the qualifying disability before age 26. Money from a Special Needs trust can be moved into an ABLE account, and the beneficiary can use it for any qualified disability expense.

Prepare a letter of intent or guidance. This is not a legally binding document, but rather a way of sharing information with others about your child: their preferences, routines, comfort levels and wishes. It can also be used to provide information about caregivers, medical providers and others who are a good fit with your child. You may also wish to share information about what and who they do not like. Update the letter every year or two.

Power of Attorney. Having a power of attorney for a disabled individual is far more flexible and less costly than a conservatorship or guardianship.

Housing options. Where will your child live? That depends on what kind of disability the child has and the family’s financial resources. Ideally, the child can transition from the family home to another place while the parents are still living. If feasible, the parents could leave the family home to the child in the Special Needs trust, but they will also need to leave enough money for ongoing expenses and maintenance of the house. Some disabled adults live in group home settings, where counselors and other staffers help residents live on their own.

An elder care lawyer will be able to connect the family with many different resources and help with creating a Special Needs trust.

Reference: The San Diego Union Tribune (Jan. 9, 2020) “How to build support system for adult children with disabilities”

Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jane Frankel Sims

410-828-7775

Contact: Frank Campbell

410-263-1667

Sims & Campbell Estates and Trusts

Frankel Sims Law and Holden & Campbell
Merge to Form Sims & Campbell

Firm will offer comprehensive Trusts & Estates services through offices in Towson and Annapolis

TOWSON, Md. (April 26,2019)  Frankel Sims Law and Holden & Campbell have jointly announced the merger of their firms to create a boutique Trusts & Estates law firm providing comprehensive services in the fields of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Trust Administration and Charitable Giving. The combined firm will be named Sims & Campbell and have offices in Towson, Md. and Annapolis, Md.  Jane Frankel Sims and Frank Campbell will lead and hold equal ownership stakes in the firm.

Sims & Campbell will have 9 attorneys and 15 legal professionals that handle every facet of estate and wealth transfer planning, including wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, estate and gift tax advice, and charitable giving strategies.  The firm will focus solely on Trusts & Estates but will serve a wide range of clients, from young families with modest resources to ultra-high net worth individuals.  This allows clients to remain with the firm as their level of wealth and the complexity of related estate and tax implications change over time. 

“By joining forces, we have expanded our footprint to conveniently serve clients in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia” said Jane Frankel Sims.  We are seeing some of the greatest wealth transfer in our country’s history, and we want to continue to be on the leading edge of helping our clients maintain and enhance their family’s wealth.  In addition, we aim to serve our clients for years to come, and the new firm structure will allow Sims & Campbell to thrive even after Frank and I have retired.”    

“Jane and I have always admired each other’s firms and recognized the need to provide even greater depth and breadth of focused expertise to help families amass and protect their wealth from generation to generation,” said Frank Campbell.  “Now we have even greater capabilities to make a real difference for our clients.” 

The Sims & Campbell Towson office is located at 500 York Road, on the corner of York Road and Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of Towson.  The Annapolis office is currently located at 716 Melvin Avenue, and is moving to 181 Truman Parkway in August, 2019.  For more information, visit www.simscampbell.law.