Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Planning for the Future

Ever since my son turned 18 years old earlier this year, my wife and I have been busy trying to accomplish several things to benefit him.  Since he is completely disabled, the first thing that we did was to start the process of trying to get him Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits through the Social Security Administration.

That adventure took a couple of different turns.  Our first visit to Social Security was scheduled for two months prior to his 18th birthday.  We were originally told that we should apply prior to his 18th birthday so that by the time that it was approved he could start to get benefits right at his birthday.  Once we were in our meeting with Social Security, we were told we should wait until he turns 18 because otherwise they would consider our income when determining his eligibility for benefits.

A couple weeks after he turned 18, we headed back to the Social Security office to apply.  We had filled out the application and answered all of the required questions.  A few short weeks later, we received word that our son had been approved for SSI benefits, which he started receiving in June, albeit at a one third reduction due to their determination that he was receiving in kind support from us.

There are a lot of rules involved with SSI.  One of them is that in order for my son to continue to receive benefits, his total assets have to remain below $2000.  For that reason, we have also had to take some steps for estate planning should anything happen to my wife and I.  As part of that planning, we have had to set up a special needs trust so that any assets would not go directly to our son so that his assets will remain under $2000.

One of the things I was not aware of is that all wills have to go through probate.  I had always heard the horror stories of dying without a will and having your estate go through the probate courts.  It turns out that even with a will, the estate must go through probate in your state.  So, if you are in Texas, you have to through texas probate, and in Maryland, Maryland probate.  Having a will that specify how you want your estate handled makes the whole process easier.  For the sake of your loved ones, be sure to plan for the future.
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