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Charleston Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Monday, December 31, 2018

Mental Illness and Estate Planning - Know Your Options

When you are developing your estate plan, mental illness could be a difficult issue to address with your South Carolina special needs trusts lawyer. However, several estate planning options can help you prepare for the possibility that you may develop a mental illness, or you need to protect an adult child with a mental illness. In most cases, you can accomplish the traditional estate planning goals of avoiding estate taxes and probate, but you are also able to customize your estate plan to address unique situations related to mental illness.

Estate Planning Tools for Your Incapacitation

No one wants to consider that they may not always be able to make decisions for themselves. However, it is wise to consider options for protecting yourself, in addition to protecting your family. You need to ensure that if you are unable to make decisions for yourself for any reason that you have documents in place that can prevent a court from appointing a conservator or guardian. Estate planning documents you may want to consider include a Durable General Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, and Living Will.

Protecting an Adult With a Mental Illness

Estate planning can also protect a loved one with a mental illness. With your estate plan, you can take steps to ensure your child or other family member receives the assistance he or she needs after your death without bequeathing money or property directly to your heir. In addition, your estate plan should address how an inheritance may impact government benefits that your family member may be entitled to receive.

A special needs trust is one of the most useful estate planning tools for anyone who is attempting to care for a mentally ill adult. For instance, a special needs trust allows you to provide for your child who has a mental illness by appointing a trustee to manage assets within the trust for the benefit of your child. Your child does not inherit the assets directly, so you do not need to worry about your child disposing of the assets or someone taking advantage of your child because of his or her inheritance. The trustee can use the assets within the special needs trust to ensure your child’s basic needs are met.

In addition, by placing the assets within a special needs trust, you do not need to worry about your child’s inheritance interfering with any government assistance programs. Bequeathing property directly to your child could result in the termination of government benefits. However, with a special needs trust, your child does not directly receive any assets or money. The trustee uses the trust assets to pay for your child’s living expenses and pay for items and services that your child needs.

Discuss Your Situation with a South Carolina Estate-Planning Attorney

A special needs trust and other estate planning documents can be drafted and funded in several ways. Schedule a consult with one of our South Carolina special needs lawyers today. A South Carolina estate-planning attorney can review your family’s situation to help you determine the best way to structure your estate plan to protect someone with a mental illness.

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Wiles Law Firm, LLC helps clients with their estate planning needs in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas such as West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and John's Island.

Information on this website is not legal advice. Further, viewing of the enclosed information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Wiles Law Firm, LLC. Matters will be handled by attorneys who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 852 Lowcountry Blvd., Ste. 101, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. M. Emerson Wiles, III is the attorney responsible for this advertisement.

Any result Wiles Law Firm, LLC may achieve on behalf of one client in one particular matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Please contact a South Carolina estate planning attorney or one of our attorneys with Wiles Law Firm, LLC for a consultation regarding your unique estate plan.

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