Moving? Make Sure Your Special Needs Planning Moves With You

If you have already established an appropriate special needs trust for your child, then congratulations! You’ve taken a wonderful step towards ensuring that your child can take maximum advantage of the government programs available for his or her needs, while also providing your child with security for all the things the government can’t or won’t provide. Having gone through this process, assisted by a qualified special needs planning attorney of course, you may think that you’ve done your job to protect your child’s benefits, and in most cases, you have done a great deal. However, if you are thinking about moving to another state with your child, or if your child has grown up and is moving away from home, beware. Provisions in your child’s trust are almost always designed specifically for your current state of residence and may not work properly in your new home. Planning well in advance of your move will save you time, money, and a great deal of hassle, while helping to make your child’s transition as seamless as possible.

Once you have decided to move to another state, you should immediately contact a qualified special needs attorney in your future home state and discuss the steps you have already taken in regards to your child’s needs. You should also talk with the attorney who drafted the original trust documents, and put that attorney in contact with your new special needs planner. The new attorney will review the trust documents and let you know what, if anything, needs to change in order for the trust to function properly. Often, changing the trust can be as simple as executing a brief amendment or having the trustee sign off on slight changes. If your child’s trust was established by a court, which often happens as part of a personal injury settlement, you may need to obtain court approval for any substantive changes to the document. Furthermore, you may have to transfer authority over the trust from the court in your current home to a new court in your new state.

While Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program with a uniform benefit rate, many states offer additional SSI payments to beneficiaries. Parents need to be aware that their child’s benefit may be reduced or increased, depending on the state to which they are moving. As for Medicaid, it is both a federal and state program, and in some states, such as Virginia, must be applied for separately from SSI. So even though some types of Medicaid benefits (such as emergency care) in some states travel with your child, most Medicaid benefits don’t. In many states, your child will have to go through an additional application process in your new state, with different regulations regarding the treatment of your child’s trust’s assets.

The key lesson for any family choosing to relocate is to plan well in advance. Utilizing a qualified special needs attorney is the best way to familiarize yourself with your new state’s programs and laws, and to ensure quality, ongoing care for your child.

 If you have recently moved to Virginia, Maryland or Washington DC, the Farr Law Firm would be happy to review your current Special Needs Trust to see if it is appropriate or if modifications are necessary, and also to assist you with applying for Medicaid in your new home state.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

Leave a comment

Thank you for your upload