Planning for Individuals with Disabilities in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Area FAQs
Special education, estate planning and disability law firm with offices in Berwyn, Wyomissing, Scranton, Wilmington DE and Washington, D.C. Area
Estate planning, special needs planning and disability law firm of McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. was founded in 1983 to guide families through their estate planning options, including special considerations for the care and support of individuals with disabilities.
To learn more about how to plan for your family’s future, read the answers to these frequently asked questions about estate planning for individuals with disabilities. Also, access our estate planning FAQs for answers to general questions about wills and trusts. Our wills and trusts lawyers can discuss your individual circumstances and help you create an effective plan — including special needs trusts and guardianship arrangements.
Consult Pennsylvania, Delaware and Washington D.C. area estate planning attorneys to learn more about protecting your child with a disability
Consult PA, DE, and Washington, D.C. Area special education, estate planning and disability lawyers at McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. at 610.648.9300 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.
- Why do I need a will?
- Why do I need a trust?
- What is a discretionary trust?
- What is a power of attorney?
- What is a guardian?
- What information should I gather before I contact an attorney to prepare a will?
A will ensures that your choices of estate administrator, beneficiaries and guardians are honored after your death. A will is especially important if you care for a family member who has a disability. If your family includes a person with disabilities or an individual who may require long-term skilled care, consider establishing a special needs trust. A properly drafted will can also reduce death taxes and costs associated with administering your estate.
Trusts are often essential to ensure the proper management of property left to individuals who are minors, disabled or irresponsible. Trusts — such as credit shelter trusts, disclaimed property trusts or irrecoverable life insurance trusts — can also significantly reduce the death taxes, especially in larger estates.
A discretionary trust is created either during the lifetime of the settlor or through a person’s will, for the benefit of one or more persons, and in which the trustee retains full discretion to determine the level of assets provided to the beneficiaries of the trust — known as a special needs trust. This can make assets available for a person with disabilities without disqualifying that person from taking advantage of crucial governmental programs, such as Medical Assistance (Medicaid) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
4. What is a power of attorney?
A power of attorney is a written document signed by a competent individual that authorizes another to act as the individual’s agent — typically in financial or medical matters. If it is drafted as a durable power of attorney, the authority to act by the holder of the power survives incapacity of the maker.
A guardian is a person appointed by a court to make financial and personal decisions for an adult incapacitated person. In 1992, Pennsylvania enacted a limited guardianship statute that allows a court to find a person totally or partially incapacitated and to appoint either a limited guardian or a plenary (full) guardian. The appointment of a family member or any other person as guardian does not increase the financial responsibility of the guardian to support the person with disabilities.
Collect the following information and documents for your appointment with McAndrews Law Offices, P.C.:
- Your wishes for the distribution of your assets
- Names of an executor and alternate executor — individuals you trust to manage the affairs of your estate after you pass
- Names of guardians of your minor children — individuals you trust to care for your children
- The amount of your approximate net worth — if your net estate, including life insurance, exceeds the current or future estate tax exclusion, tax planning may be necessary to avoid substantial death taxes
- Information about your family member who has a disability — include the nature of the disability and the long-term prognosis for that person
- Any existing estate planning documents such as wills, powers of attorney, trusts, child support orders and guardianship decrees