Hi all! I have an update on Ohio’s implementation of their ABLE 529 account. I get updates every so often from State Representative (and former curler) Tim Brown. He says that Ohio’s funding has been ensured for HB 155, or as we know it, Ohio’s ABLE Act. This funding is part of the budget that has been submitted to to Governor Kasich for his signature. This is very exciting for both special needs families and planners alike.
A short update, I know, but I had to share the good news.
Ok people! There are three documents out there that EVERY parent of a special needs child needs to have in place; A Special Needs Trust, A Guardianship Nomination (done in your will or trust), and A Letter of Intent. So what are these documents and why do I need them?
1. A Special Needs Trust – a 3rd Person Special Needs Trust, funded either while you are alive or by your assets at death, is a trust that holds assets for the benefit of your disabled child without disqualifying them from SSI, SSD, and Medicaid.
2. A Guardianship Nomination – Your will or trust should include a guardianship nomination for all of your minor children. Remember, when your child turns 18, they are now an adult, even if they disabled and do not have a the mental capacity to care for themselves either physically or mentally. It is essential that you take the time to nominate a guardian for your disabled child so that their life routine is not disrupted. While not binding, the person you nominate as guardian will typically be given preference by the Court.
3. A Letter of Intent – This is basically a snap shot of your child. It should include information about your child’s routines, preferences, medical history, allergies, interests, etc. The purpose of the letter is so your child’s next caregiver will know as much about your child as possible. This will make sure that their needs and wants are met and that their routine is uninterrupted.
Remember, the name of the game in estate planning is smoothness. The idea is that your child’s transition to a new caregiver when you pass away is as smooth as possible. We all know how important routine and predictability is to many special needs adults and children. Having these documents will make life easier for everyone involved, especially your child.
There is good news for the special needs community. At the end of last year, President Obama signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, or ABLE into law. It is a law that allows individuals who are disabled to keep more than $2,000 in assets. Here is how it works. 1. The individual must have been disabled before the age of 26. 2. Only one account may be opened per disabled person. 3. The interest earned on the account is tax free. 4. Up to $14,000 can be deposited annually. 5. The account can hold a maximum of $100,000. So what does this mean for special needs individuals? What it will do is replace the need for a 1st Person SNT for many individuals who have been disabled from birth. I envision it as a fantastic tool for people who are special needs but also working. Now, they will be able to accumulate a savings without losing their benefits. Obviously this won’t replace planning for the family and the use of 3rd Person SNTs but will become a part of the planning. Any legislation that gives special needs individuals a chance to live a richer, fuller life is fantastic. As soon as Ohio and Michigan implement their ABLE plans, I will start recommending them to all of my special needs clients who work.