Do you care for a disabled loved one? Were you aware that since 1987, March has been recognized as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month? The month of March does provide a national focus on this important area of estate planning for a disabled loved one, however, it is a topic we focus on every month of the year in our practice. Everything from ensuring a minor child facing a disability is protected in every potential future circumstance through the parent or grandparents Florida estate planning to providing for an older loved one who may need long-term care inside or outside the home, we can provide the guidance you need to protect your disabled loved one.

When you begin planning and drafting your comprehensive estate plan with your Florida estate planning attorney for your disabled loved one there are many legal considerations you need to think about. You may be inclined to avoid this planning because of the difficult conversations it forces you to have, but we encourage you not to wait to complete your Florida estate planning. It is extremely important to plan ahead for the long-term future of your loved one with special needs. 

We have some information we would like you to think about when meeting with your Florida estate planning attorney to create your Florida estate plan when you have a disabled loved one.

  1. Most importantly plan now…not later! Were you aware that in Florida when anyone reaches the age of majority, there will be changes that take place? Did you know that even if the person is disabled and is unable to provide for him or herself or can barely function independently, a parent or grandparent no longer has the legal right to make financial or health care decisions once the child is deemed an adult?  Without planning ahead and creating a good Florida estate plan, even someone with a significant developmental, cognitive or mental health disability is legally permitted to make decisions at the age of majority. 
  2. When thinking of your disabled loved one, be sure to choose highly qualified future decision maker(s). The future decision maker(s) you choose for your disabled loved one will have the legal authority to make decisions for your disabled loved one under your Florida estate plan.  Your Florida estate planning attorney, who has specific expertise in this area, can be particularly helpful for guidance, especially when it comes to choosing a decision maker(s) for the person and property of your disabled loved one. He may recommend a Florida special needs trust. This is a Florida estate planning tool that can be set up for your loved one to ensure that money will be available throughout his or her lifetime. It can be used for your loved one while not interrupting his or her ability to receive public benefits, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income.  
  3. Keep a record of how you cared for your loved one, complete with daily routines of care, schooling, medical, financial and more. These daily, monthly and/or yearly records will document how you cared for your disabled loved one, provide names of medical providers, facilities and more and will actually form the foundation for a care plan for your disabled loved one. This will give the future decision maker(s) you choose for your disabled loved one a guide to look at as they care for your disabled loved one. 

We know you may have questions about this, and many other, estate planning issues. At the Perlin Estate Planning & Probate our credentials enable us to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to our legal services.  By building relationships with our clients, we are also able to understand each client’s needs and desires, and we support such goals through thoughtful, comprehensive planning techniques. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.