Estate Planning. This refers to steps individuals or couples take to direct what will happen to their money and other assets after death. One aspect of future planning, this process is helpful for people in all types of financial situations. Most people want to direct how their money or assets will be distributed, minimize taxes as well as choose who will care for their minor children. Your parents may name people who will provide support for you. They may accomplish this by setting up a plan that includes a will, letter of intent, special needs trust and/or other pertinent documents.
Note: Your family should seek an attorney who understands not only estate planning issues but who also is knowledgeable about government benefits and understands the needs of people with disabilities.
Government benefits. Both financial assistance and health care benefits are very important for people with disabilities. Many parents think that they should not leave money to their child with a disability or their child will lose public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. Please discuss this with your lawyer, as money left outright to a child could jeopardize benefits if assets are above the statutory threshold.
The fact that someone is receiving benefits should be incentive to begin planning. A plan can ensure that a person keeps needed benefits and is able to use the additional assistance from family to purchase items that government benefits do not cover to enrich his/her quality of life.
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities works in partnership with local communities to ensure the safety, well-being and self-sufficiency for persons with developmental disabilities throughout Florida. The agency provides assistance to identify the needs of people with developmental disabilities and funding to purchase supports and services. The developmental disabilities identified in Florida law are: Spina Bifida, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Prader-Willi, Down Syndrome and Intellectual Disability. Medicaid Waiver helps people to receive long-term care in the community and it is through Agency for Persons with Disabilities.
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities provides support coordinators to assist both children and adults in identifying and securing the supports and services they need to live, work and play in places they chose.
Alpert Jewish Family & Children’s Service Life Planning Program offers educational seminars, individual consultations, advocacy and emotional support to families who have a family member with any type of disability, including intellectual/developmental disabilities, mental illness and TBI. The program assists families with making viable and appropriate future plans for their family members.
Coalition for Independent Living promotes independence for people with disabilities.
JELF (Jewish Education Loan Fund) provides interest-free loans for Jewish students in need to meet their post-high school, educational goals. Undergrad, graduate, vocational and/or technical school students are eligible to apply.
Alan Linker – Special needs financial planning at Stifel, A & R Wealth Management Group.
Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS), through the Center for Families & Children, offer a number of supports for families with special needs. It includes but is not limited to:
- Emergency Financial Assistance
- Jacobson Family Food Pantry
- Summer Camp Scholarships
- ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) Therapy
- Adaptive Equipment
- Supportive Shadows
- Respite Care
Douglas Vogel – Special Needs Care Planner, Mass Mutual