Seniors with Adult Children With Disabilities Need to Consider Special Needs Trusts
New York, NY (Law Firm Newswire) August 30, 2012 - More people with developmental disabilities are living to adulthood and even into their senior years.
The average life expectancy for someone born with Down Syndrome in the United States was nine years of age in the 1920s, and approximately 25 years of age in 1983. As of 2011, life expectancy for someone with Down Syndrome is 60 years of age.
This dramatic increase in lifespan and quality of life for someone with Down Syndrome is a testament to the benefits of early childhood intervention, medical breakthroughs and an ever-increasing number of community-based resources. However, adults with special needs living longer means that they also need a longer span of support; more adult children with disabilities need their primary caregivers, their parents, to care for them for longer than before. Meanwhile, the primary caregivers are aging as well, leading to a growing number of seniors caring for their adult children with special needs.
According to "The Graying of Disabled America," medical issues can complicate the caregiving further, as some adults with disabilities age physically earlier than others. “Individuals with mental retardation and neuromotor disabilities may experience the effects of aging earlier than individuals without mental retardation or neuromotor disorders,” said Jeffrey H. Minde, C.S.W. and Andrea R. Friedman, M.Ed. “Twelve percent of all people with developmental disabilities are over the age of 65 years. This translates to approximately 500,000 individuals or more.”
Senior adults with dependent children may wish to explore the option of establishing a Special Needs Trust. Assets from a Special Needs Trust can be used to pay for medical services not covered by Medicaid, for a residence for the beneficiary and enrichment expenses.
There are three types of SNTs to consider: a first party special needs trust, funded with assets from the beneficiary; a pooled special needs trust, also funded with assets but managed by a nonprofit organization, when there is no legal guardian available to establish the trust; and a third party supplemental needs trust, funded with assets from others.
Each Special Needs Trust has strengths and weaknesses, depending on the individual requirements and circumstances. It is advisable to work with an attorney experienced in special needs planning, estate planning and elder law to explore what options are available.
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Maria M. Brill
Littman Krooks LLP
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