Autism is a developmental disability that strikes with alarming frequency these days. Autism is called a “spectrum disorder,” meaning that there is no one consistent symptom. Instead, individuals with autism exhibit one or more of the behaviors associated with the disorder, and the severity of the symptoms will vary person by person.
In many cases people with autism require care and treatment throughout their lives. This can be extraordinarily expensive, reaching well into the seven figures.
The average family that includes someone with autism clearly is not going to be able to absorb these types of expenses. As a result government programs become very important. Medicaid will pay for care if you can qualify, and Supplemental Security Income may also be available to individuals with autism.
Now we get into the questions about estate planning when someone with autism is on an inheritance list. What happens to eligibility for government benefits if an individual with special-needs receives a large inheritance?
The answer is that there are upper asset limits that you must stay within to remain eligible. If someone who is receiving Supplemental Security Income while tapping into Medicaid benefits was to receive a direct inheritance his or her benefit eligibility could indeed be jeopardized.
The solution for many would be the creation of a supplemental or special needs trust. With these devices the assets can be used to provide certain comforts to the beneficiary without causing a loss of benefits.
Experts are constantly looking for ways to improve care and treatment for those who are challenged by autism. During the month of April we add our voice to the chorus of those who are attempting to raise awareness.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.