Special Needs Financial Services
At the crossroads – when fortune meets misfortune – everything can change. Sudden wealth can cause fear, guilt, depression, reckless behavior and more serious conditions. At STARCARE, we recognize and understand the symptoms that accompany unexpected wealth and have developed a disciplined framework to avoid the pitfalls that can undermine your success. Those most at risk are athletes, actors, divorcées and disabled individuals who have received personal injury awards.
What are Special Needs Financial Services?
Special needs financial services, generally, are programs that support clients with disabilities and their families. The term “special needs” is broad, and can include disabled individuals and families with disabled members; personal injury recipients; wrongful death claimants; and others.
A family member’s special needs may place an enormous financial and emotional strain on the individual and his or her family. Making provisions for the long-term care of a disabled individual requires thoughtful and careful planning. A typical plan for an individual with a disabled family member might require a will and/or trust agreement, durable powers of attorney, living will and related documents and designations of conservator in the event of future incapacity.
Planning for a child or adult with special needs:
Financial planning for the future of a child or an adult with special needs requires in-depth knowledge of the federal laws as they pertain to government benefit eligibility – such as Social Security Disability, SSI and state programs, as well as MediCal and Medicaid – as well as familiarity with tax law, trusts, estates and probate, conservatorships and guardianships.
Planning typically involves legal documents such as Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) – further described below – and guardianships as well as financial considerations for providing not just lifetime care, but quality of life. The disabled client and his/her family must be confident that the attorney, accountant, financial professionals, and other trusted advisors are knowledgeable in all of these areas.
Special Needs Trusts:
Special needs trusts are designed as a funding vehicle for resources that benefit a special needs person, while maintaining the individual’s eligibility for public assistance benefits. Because the benefits provided by the federal and state government agency are so limited, many families wish to supplement those funds with additional assets. In most cases, the only way to do this without jeopardizing a child’s eligibility for important health and welfare benefits is by establishing a Special Needs Trust.
While government agencies recognize Special Needs Trusts, they have imposed very stringent rules and requirements upon them. They must be administered by a trustee who should be mindful of government benefits, Social Security income and resource rules, including in-kind income that could severely impact eligibility. These trusts also require fiduciary accounting and separate income tax returns, as well.
Helping Special Needs Clients
The beneficiary of a Special Needs Trust is an individual who often cannot be an advocate for him/herself. STARCARE offers years of experience in this field and can help you determine the appropriateness of a Special Needs Trust and, if desired, help establish such a trust tailored to your financial needs and objectives. STARCARE assists families and their trusted advisors in evaluating various alternatives for funding a Special Needs Trust and helps select the investment management arrangements that best suit the particular circumstances. We also work with professionals nationwide that provide trust administration services for Special Needs Trusts.
Integrated Settlement Services
We offer specialized services to assist those who have received awards as a result of personal injury or other legal settlements. In our experience, money by itself doesn’t solve many problems – and few are prepared to deal with its consequences. Working closely with other professionals, our integrated approach offers financial help early in the judicial process and continues indefinitely. We pay special attention to complex and interrelated issues such as benefits preservation, lien resolution and taxation, in seeking to deliver competent financial advice and to craft customized plans that meet clients’ current and future needs. Our services include structured settlements, benefits preservation, trust analysis and creation, and administration.
- Structured settlements
- With other professionals we can assist you with lien resolution and creating trusts
- Benefits preservation
- Ancillary services, including administration, trust analysis, planning and implementation
Pre-Paid Legal Services
Through independent provider attorneys associated with AmeriEstate Legal Plan, we are able to make available to our clients pre-paid legal services for various estate planning and asset protection* legal strategies. These include:
- Last Will & Testaments
- Revocable Living Trusts
- Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts
- Charitable Remainder Trusts
- Powers of Attorney
- Health Care Directives
- Living Wills and Reviews and Updates of Existing Revocable Living Trusts.
*Asset Protection Strategies include basic formation of Corporations, Limited Liability Companies (LLC) and Family Limited Partnerships (FLP).