Disability and Estate Planning

Disability and Estate Planning
Velasco law Jan 13 2024

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual celebration of the contributions workers with disabilities make to America’s economy. NDEAM’s theme for 2023 is “Advancing Access and Equity,” promoting the tangible benefits that companies committed to an inclusive workforce gain by providing opportunities for individuals with disabilities. While the theme is inspiring, the reality of what disabled individuals face in seeking work is more sobering.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, disability affects approximately 61 million people in the U.S., about 26% of the population. This includes those with physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments—everything from those who need to use a wheelchair to get around or are deaf to those who have autism or ADHD. Unfortunately, labor statistics show that across the board those with disabilities were far more likely to be unemployed or underemployed than those without a disability. Only 21.3% of those with disabilities were employed in 2022, compared with 65.4% of those without a disability, and a higher percentage of the disabled (30%) were employed on only a part-time basis than the nondisabled (16%).

This means that despite growing acceptance and opportunity, disabled individuals face a harder time building a career to support themselves—and the sad reality is that not all disabled individuals are capable of working. For families concerned about the welfare of a disabled individual, estate planning is a means of ensuring that they can continue to provide for the needs of their loved one into the future. However, when done without careful forethought, a family’s good intentions can disqualify a disabled individual who is unable to work or fully provide for themselves from receiving public benefits or reduce the benefits they’re entitled to.

Understanding the Challenges

How likely it is that your family will need to factor disability into your estate planning? Consider autism, a neurodiverse condition that is affecting a growing number of children. In 2000, roughly 1 in 150 children were identified as having autism—in 2020, that number had grown to 1 in 36. The number of students who received special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has also grown to encompass 15% of all public school students as of the 2021–2022 school year, up from 13% in 2010–2011. In short, we would be surprised to find that there is any family that isn’t affected by disability in some way.

This is why we’re dedicated to inclusivity at Velasco Law Group. We understand that while estate planning tends to have universal shared goals—preserving wealth, avoiding probate, and passing your assets on to the intended beneficiaries with as little delay as possible—every family is unique. When your plans must provide for the well-being of a beloved family member with a disability, you need an estate planning expert who knows the legal tools available to create the right strategy for you.

We work with each family to determine the level of support and independence that is appropriate in their situation to provide the right legal guidance. When it is necessary to preserve means-tested benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), we will recommend the steps to take to avoid inadvertently cutting off public support. We also work with you to ensure that the administrator or trustee you put in place is equipped to understand their responsibilities and fulfill their commitment as you envision. Most importantly, we treat every individual, disabled or not, and their families with the respect and understanding they deserve.

Protecting Your Family

A well-designed, intentional estate plan is a gift to your family that can prevent needless conflict and secure your legacy. When you need to ensure that a special needs child or a disabled adult will be supported and cared for after you’re gone, the experienced attorneys at Velasco Law Group can help. We provide legal services in both English and Spanish to better serve our Southern California community. To schedule your free initial consultation, contact us here today.

For an appointment call us at 562-432-5541

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