July 1

Can You Rely on Legal Insurance for Your Special Needs Estate Plan?

As the need for affordable legal services becomes even more important in today’s world, it's common to opt for group legal insurance offered through your workplace benefits. These group insurance plans provide free legal assistance for a variety of needs from law firms that have contracted with the insurance company to perform the legal work.

While group legal insurance might seem like an easy option to save on your family’s legal needs, it’s likely inadequate for addressing the specific and often complex legal planning needed to protect your loved one with special needs.

Here are the reasons why Special Needs Planning demands a highly tailored approach and expertise beyond the scope of your group legal insurance coverage. I’ll explore the potential pitfalls of using group legal insurance for Special Needs Planning and share suitable alternatives to ensure your loved one with special needs is protected and cared for over their entire lives.

One Size Doesn't Fit All

When it comes to Special Needs Planning, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Each person with special needs has unique care requirements, abilities, and aspirations. Their financial, medical, and emotional needs of your loved one must be taken into account to craft a comprehensive plan that will serve their needs and foster a meaningful life for them, after you are gone. 

Your group legal insurance plan may offer general legal services and even estate planning services, but a general set of estate planning documents isn’t enough for an individual with special needs.

To create a plan that is right for your loved one, it must:

01 | Be customized for their abilities, as well as their financial and medical needs, 

02 | Properly incentivize the care you want them to receive throughout their life, after you are gone, and

03 | Follow state and federal laws in order to keep your loved one eligible for public benefits like Social Security and Medicaid

The type of cookie-cutter estate plan you are likely to receive through your group legal insurance plan simply won’t include the kind of customizations necessary to deliver a plan that will serve your loved one in the way you would want while preserving their public benefits.

Understanding the Laws and Regulations

Navigating the legal landscape of Special Needs Planning for the one you love can be like walking through a maze. The laws and regulations that govern Special Needs Planning are complex and change frequently, and involve an understanding of federal and state law.

There are countless legal tools available to support your loved one's future, from government benefits like Social Security and Medicaid to Special Needs Trusts and in-home support services. It can be difficult to know which programs your loved one qualifies for, which program will achieve your desired outcome, and how to apply for each program without proper training.

To navigate these complexities and create a truly effective Special Needs Plan for your loved one, your attorney not only needs to be an expert in this area of law, but they also need to ask the right questions to understand your personal needs, goals, and family dynamics in order to recommend the tools most appropriate for your situation.

Unfortunately, the in-network attorneys contracted under group legal insurance plans rarely have the training or expertise necessary to handle Special Needs Planning cases. And, even if the legal insurance plan lawyer does have the training, the legal insurance plan fees wouldn’t cover the custom planning needed to care for your loved one.

You Need a Holistic Planning Approach

Caring for a loved one with special needs extends beyond legal matters. It involves addressing emotional, financial, and medical aspects with equal importance. As your dedicated Personal Family Lawyer® with a Special Needs Planning focus, I take a holistic approach to serving you by working closely with you and your family to understand your family's values, dreams, and aspirations you have for your loved one and your family as a whole. This allows me to create a truly personalized plan that takes into account every aspect of your family's well-being.

What’s more, the needs of your loved one with a disability and your own financial and medical needs will change over time. That’s why it’s crucial to coordinate your estate plan and their benefit eligibility so that both you and your loved one will be cared for if you die or become incapacitated during your loved one’s life.

To do this, I look at how your needs and the needs of your loved one intersect and can provide you with personalized guidance at any stage in life’s journey, such as when it’s time to appoint someone else to assist you in caring for your loved one and making plans to increase your loved one’s independence while keeping their eligibility for public assistance.

Special Needs Planning requires a continuum of proactive and interconnected planning to ensure your loved one and your entire family always have the best care while preserving your family’s wealth, legacy, and lifestyle as much as possible.

Legal Insurance Plans Lack Long-Term Considerations

Special Needs Planning is a journey that spans a lifetime. As your loved one grows and their needs evolve, your planning must adapt accordingly. Relying solely on group legal insurance won’t provide the ongoing support and guidance needed to address changing circumstances over the years. 

Under group legal insurance, your choice of attorneys is limited to the firms that have contracts with the insurance company, and there is no guarantee that the attorney you worked with this year will be available to help with changes in your loved one’s care several years from now. 

Your child with special needs will grow into an adult. That means you’ll lose your ability to make decisions for them unless you update your estate plan to nominate a Permanent Guardian or Power of Attorney for them. We can help with that.

Your loved one with special needs may inherit assets from a well-meaning relative. This is a wonderful gift, but an increase in your loved one’s assets may cause a lapse or loss of government benefits unless quick action is taken by your Special Needs Planning attorney. We will help you look at all of these considerations as part of our planning with you.

Without a personal attorney-client relationship, the window to achieve time-sensitive changes to your plan may close before you even get started with a new in-network attorney. Instead, you want to work with an attorney who knows your family’s story and can pick up right where you left off, allowing them to quickly and effectively address any needed changes to your plan.

Trusted Expertise in Special Needs Planning

Special Needs Planning is essential to secure a comfortable and enriching future for your loved one with special needs. Creating a Special Needs Plan can be incredibly stressful for caregivers, and requires in-depth knowledge and expertise in both the law and state and federal disability programs.

While group legal insurance may seem like the ultimate way to protect your loved one’s future legal needs and your family’s wallet, sadly, the services available through these group insurance plans simply aren’t comprehensive enough to provide Special Needs Plans that will work for your family for the long term.

Instead, it’s crucial to work with an experienced Special Needs Planning attorney who gets to know your family on a personal level and can guide you every step of the way.

Your family's special needs journey deserves personalized attention, compassionate understanding, and unwavering dedication. That’s why I have dedicated my practice to mastering the intricacies of Special Needs Planning, allowing me to guide you skillfully through the process. 

If you want to make sure your loved one with special needs is always cared for no matter what the future holds, schedule a phone call with me. Together we can create a comprehensive Special Needs Plan that honors your family's unique story and ensures your loved one’s life is filled with love, support, and abundance.

This article is a service of a Personal Family Lawyer® Firm. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session.

The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

Proper estate planning can keep your family out of conflict, out of court, and out of the public eye. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, contact us to schedule your Planning Session. Even if you already have a plan in place, we will review it and help you bring it up to date to avoid heartache for your family. Schedule online today.

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