Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

PUTTING THE FUTURE IN JEOPARDY: The Results of Choosing the Wrong Attorney Can Affect the Quality of Life

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

PUTTING THE FUTURE IN JEOPARDY: The Results of Choosing the Wrong Attorney Can Affect the Quality of Life

Article excerpt

Disaster can result when parents of people with disabilities retain an attorney who is unfamiliar with government benefits to draft their estate plan. One illustration of this point is the situation that arose when Mrs. James, a widow in her 80s, hired an attorney who was not familiar with the special estate planning needs of families with dependents who have a disability. The lawyer drafted a living trust for her with a subtrust for the benefit of her daughter, Jane. Unfortunately, the trust the lawyer included for Jane was a mandatory support trust. Upon her mother's death, Jane required round-the-clock care. The mandatory support trust, however, disqualified Jane from eligibility for state-funded residential programs and required that she spend the trust down to $2,000 before the state would assist her.

To complicate matters further, the trustee who was selected also lacked knowledge of government benefits. When Mrs. James entered a nursing home, the trustee paid privately for her care. …

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