April has been set aside by advocacy groups as Autism Awareness Month. We would like to do our part here on the blog and suggest that you take some time this month to learn about how autism is affecting families throughout our community and around the world.
This is a disorder that directly or indirectly touches a significant percentage of Americans. As many as 1.5 million people have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, and the presence of the disability is growing.
The financial impact of autism is considerable. It can cost millions of dollars to provide care for someone with autism throughout the entirety of his or her life.
Government benefits are the lifeblood of many people with disabilities who need expensive care. Supplemental Security Income provides an ongoing infusion of cash, and the Medicaid program will often times pay for care and treatment.
When you are planning your estate you must understand the guidelines that these programs work with regarding eligibility. Someone with a great deal of money would not qualify for Medicaid because this is a program that is designed to help those with significant financial need.
If a well-meaning relative was to leave a direct inheritance to someone with special-needs loss of benefits could be the unintended consequence.
As an alternative you could convey resources into a supplemental needs trust. These assets can be used to address certain needs without counting against the beneficiary when Medicaid is doing its evaluations.
The above is some food for thought from an estate planning perspective. On a more personal level, take a moment to visit the Autism Speaks website to learn more about autism during the month of April.