Special Needs Planning and Mental Health IssuesParents of children with complex psychiatric needs are often tasked with addressing their child’s medical and educational issues while providing a supportive family environment.  In some cases, the child’s mental health needs will extend into adulthood and inhibit their ability to provide for themselves.  As caregiving parents age, it is often necessary to have measures in place to provide support for their child both now and in the future.  Here are some considerations regarding special needs planning and mental health issues.

Special Needs Trust

Adults with significant mental health challenges may be unable to provide for their needs entirely.  While an individual in this situation might qualify for public assistance, these resources are seldom enough to pay for all of their expenses.  Fortunately, those families wanting to help further support their loved one may be able to do so through a legal device known as a special needs trust.  This kind of trust can be funded with the express purpose of providing for a person with a qualifying mental health condition.  The trust assets will not be considered in the calculation of the recipient’s eligibility for public benefits.  However, there are rules regarding how trust disbursements can be used and how payment must be made to the beneficiary.  Further, in certain situations trust assets can either revert to the government or the decedent’s heirs in the event of the beneficiary’s death.

Governmental Assistance

As indicated above, governmental assistance may be available to someone with a mental health diagnosis.  However, while these benefits may include funds and some medical coverage they typically do not meet all of the recipient’s needs.  Further, to be eligible, an applicant must not have more than a certain amount in assets or income.  Fortunately, with careful planning and the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney, it is possible for families to provide additional resources for their loved one without comprising their benefit eligibility.


A Michigan Achieving a Better Life Experience (MiABLE) account is another means to provide support for a loved one in this situation.  A MiABLE account is a tax-free savings account which can be created for individuals with significant disabilities who became disabled on or before their 26th birthday and are eligible to receive SSI; are eligible to receive SSDI, or have been diagnosed by a qualified physician with a physical or mental disability resulting in marked and severe functional limitations that is expected to last no less than 12 months.

A MiAble account can be up to $100,000.00 and not impact a holder’s government benefits.  Additionally, $14,000.00 per year can be added to the account without the holder’s governmental assistance being impacted.   These funds can be used for the account holder’s “qualified daily living expenses” which include an array of things such as their health care expenses, education, transportation, and personal support services.

Anticipating the needs of an adult child with a mental illness can be challenging.  However, by gathering resources and utilizing them wisely, parents can create ongoing support for their child.  We have experience helping families plan for their loved ones. Contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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