“Thought for the Day” #940 – by Stephen R. Elville, J.D., LL.M.

April 4, 2017

Other ways to avoid the time and expense of a guardianship or conservatorship for an adult disabled child include the following. If an adult child receives either Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and cannot manage the income, the Social Security Administration allows another person – a “representative payee” to receive the funds to use on the child’s behalf. However this option also requires the filing of an annual report showing how the money was used. Another option for parents to consider is establishing a special needs trust. The trust allows a person with special needs to shield assets for certain purposes while maintaining eligibility to receive SSI and Medicaid benefits. The trustee invests and manages the trust assets, usually avoiding the need for a financial guardian or conservator. Parents should consider, in consultation with an attorney familiar with special needs law, which approach or a combination of approaches best fits their particular situation. Factors to consider include the nature of the child’s special needs, the source and type of the child’s assets, and whether the child has sufficient capacity to understand his or her choices. In tomorrow’s blog, we will consider a new concept – supported decision-making.