A child with special needs is shopping with their parents at a local grocery store. When his parents run into friends and stop to chat, a flashy display catches his eye and he discreetly wanders toward it to get a closer look. After satisfying his curiosity, the boy turns to go back to his parents when he realizes that no one among the sea of shoppers looks familiar. While he does not know his address or other identifying factors, he is very friendly and trusting of others, and begins talking to the many strangers that surround him.
Expanding the Child Identification and Protection Act
The scenario above happens more often than any parent or guardian would like to admit. While it’s scary to lose track of any loved one, let alone one with special needs, it’s even more frightening when that individual isn’t able to effectively communicate critical information, such as where they live, their parents’ or guardian’s phone numbers, or the name of someone to contact. Just the slightest variation in their schedule, such as a substitute bus driver or being late to pick someone up, can place an individual with special needs in a vulnerable situation in which he or she could be taken advantage of or, worst of all, harmed.
In an attempt to provide an extra safety net for when these incidents do occur, the Michigan legislature passed a new bill in early May that offers more options for parents and guardians of both children and adults with special needs.
The bill expands the Child Identification and Protection Act by authorizing parents and guardians of loved ones with special needs to request that fingerprints and photographs of their loved ones be included in the Michigan State Police’s state-wide network. This bill passed with no additional cost to Michigan taxpayers, as the cost of the fingerprinting and photographing will be an out-of-pocket expense of the requesting parent or guardian.
Special Needs Planning
In addition to ensuring the physical safety and well being of your loved one, it is also critical that you ensure (s)he has access to all of the programs, assets, and benefits (s)he needs to thrive. While there are many public programs available to children and adults with special needs, their ability to take full advantage of these programs can be easily hindered by inheritances, the family’s income, or the individual’s access to food and/or shelter.
A Supplemental Needs Trust (commonly referred to as a Special Needs Trust or SNT) is a valuable tool that safeguards certain assets (such as inheritances) while keeping the individual eligible for public programs.
Many parents and guardians of children with special needs will set up an SNT to ensure their child is provided for after they are gone. The Trust can retain funds for the benefit of the disabled to pay for any products or services that public programs don’t cover. A third-party person, called a Trustee and nominated by the parents or guardian, would manage the SNT to ensure the funds are being used appropriately and as needed.
The SNT funds may only be used for the benefit of the individual with special needs, and can include things like public transportation costs, clubs and club dues, academic or recreational classes, massages, pet and pet’s supplies, and much more. Click HERE for a full list of permissible distributions, non-permissible distributions, and more information on your SNT options.
Start Securing Safety
Caring for a child or adult with special needs is difficult and bears heavy responsibility. But knowing your options and learning how they could work for your loved one can alleviate a lot of that stress.
Our attorneys are experienced in special needs planning and tailoring SNTs to the individual needs of their clients. Please don’t hesitate to call our office for a free consultation of your circumstances, needs, and opportunities. Protecting and providing for your loved one is only a phone call away.
248.399.3300 or Info@TheProbatePro.com