Planning for Disabled Persons in Michigan
Protecting your loved ones is one of the most critical aspects of sound estate planning. When you have a disabled loved one, it is even more important to take necessary steps to provide monetary support as well as to create appropriate guardianships to protect their best interests.
Michigan Lawyers for Disability Planning
At Willis Law, we have extensive experience assisting individuals and families with planning for the immediate and future needs of disabled persons. Our firm is dedicated to a Christian model of service with a mission to protect our clients as they make the best decisions for their families and their futures.
Let us guide you with dignity and discretion. Call (888) 461-7744 for a free initial consultation with our experienced estate planning attorneys.
Special Needs Trusts
A special needs trust is an estate planning tool that allows for families to protect loved ones with a disability. It allows for proper life-care planning to make sure a disabled person will receive the high-quality care he or she needs for many years to come, even after his or her family members are no longer there.
We work closely with our clients to ensure their loved ones will qualify for government and community benefits, as well as make sure they remain qualified for Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.
These goals can be accomplished with first- or third-party trusts. A first-party trust uses the money of a disabled individual, while a third-party trust is typically funded by parents, siblings or other relatives. Third-party trusts are very valuable in that the money used is not at risk for having to pay back Medicaid benefits that were used during a disabled person's lifetime.
Supplemental Needs Trust Funds
Supplemental Trust Funds are used to provide additional care to a disabled person, beyond the benefits the person is receiving from SSI or Medicaid. As with OBRA payback trusts, these funds are not used against the limits for benefit qualification. A third party provides the funding for a Supplemental Trust Fund, and there is no payback requirement upon the disabled person's death.
Supplemental Security Income
Disabled persons often make use of Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI); however, it is also important to be aware of specific Medicaid planning techniques that can protect your investments and the security of a loved one now and into the future. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may also be available for individuals who are 65 and older, blind or disabled. For the purposes of SSI qualification, a disability is an impairment that can be expected to result in death or has lasted or should last for 12 consecutive months.
We work with clients to establish a case for their limited income and limited resources. This can be a challenging burden of proof and requires experienced legal counsel. Giving away property to create the appearance of limited resources is a poor and improper strategy that leads to delays in receiving benefits. The firm's lawyers show you how to legally and ethically achieve eligibility for SSI.
OBRA Payback Trusts
The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) allows the creation of trust funds, for disabled persons under the age of 65, which are not counted against eligibility for SSI or Medicaid. The disabled person's own funds are placed into the trust and considered unavailable. However, the benefits that the disabled person receives in life must be paid back to the state upon the person's death.
"Solely for the Benefit of a Spouse" Trusts
A spousal annuity allows the non-Medicaid applicant spouse to establish a trust solely for his or her own benefit. The result often is immediate eligibility for Medicaid. These trusts have no payback requirement.
Guardianship of a Disabled Person
Michigan law provides for guardianship of a developmentally disabled person. Such guardianship is meant to be used only if necessary to promote the well-being of the disabled person, including protection from the following:
Put Our Experience on Your Side
The first step toward properly planning for your disabled loved one is sitting down with our estate planning attorneys for a free initial consultation. Contact us online or call (888) 461-7744 today to arrange yours. We have offices in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Paw Paw.
Michael J. Willis J.D., C.P.A.
Shaun P. Willis J.D.
Frank D. Willis J.D.
Donald H. Smith
Mariko C. Willis
Samuel R. Gilbertson J.D.
Verelle Kirkwood J.D.
Kristyn Meylenberg J.D.