Edward V. Wilcenski, Esq., is a founding partner of Wilcenski & Pleat, PLLC, a law firm concentrating its practice on Special Needs Estate Planning and Elder Law, with offices in Clifton Park, New York and Glens Falls, New York. He has presented on estate and future care planning for individuals with disabilities and their families at Transitions. The following series contains material from his presentations. More information can be found at www.wplawny.com.
Special Needs Estate Planning is, by necessity, a dynamic process. It is common to hear financial professionals talk about the need to periodically "review a plan" to be sure that it still meets a family’s needs. This admonition is equally as important, if not more so, in the context of planning for an individual with a disability, as many people with disabilities are unable to actively advocate on their own behalf once their primary caregivers are gone.
Laws governing taxes, property rights and government benefit programs that support disabled individuals in the community are changing constantly and the resources, needs and preferences of the person with the disability as documented in the Life Care Plan will change with time. The most important thing is to begin the process. Once you have built the foundation, small changes are easy to accommodate. Legal documents can be modified, assets can be restructured and new information can be added to the Life Care Planning workbook with minimal effort.
But if you wait too long to begin the process, you may never have the opportunity to answer the question, "Who will take care of my loved one when I am gone?"