Oklahoma Probate Guide

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Overcoming Probate Challenges For Families With Special Needs Dependents

  • By: spk-admin
  • Published: March 8, 2024
Overcoming Probate Challenges For Families With Special Needs Dependents

Going through the probate process in light of losing a loved one is challenging enough in and of itself, but having dependents with special needs makes things even more complex and emotionally taxing. You’re plagued with unique considerations as you grapple with how to ensure several things are taken care of, from properly distributing assets to preserving essential benefits and support systems and more. The very inheritance meant to provide a means to your beneficiary’s continued well-being could be the very thing that inadvertently jeopardizes it.

As you continue your special needs lawyer near me search, you’ll have to teeter between the many legal formalities you’ll face and obligations to your family you’ll need to uphold. This will require having a baseline of knowledge necessary to navigate the legal system or hiring legal professionals to step in and take the reins. The process of probate lawyers at Oklahoma Estate Attorneys, PLLC. in Edmond, OK, prepared this article specifically to help you weigh your options as you begin the probate process.

Understanding Probate

If you’ve never had to deal with probate before, it’s only natural that you don’t know much about it. From a bird’s eye point of view, probate is merely a legal process by which the assets of a deceased person are identified, inventoried, and distributed to any beneficiaries they had. It also includes paying off any debt or tax obligations. If the deceased left legally compliant instructions that explain how their assets are to be distributed, the assets are distributed accordingly. If not, they are distributed according to state law.

For families with special needs dependents, there are several distinct challenges and considerations to be had. Oftentimes, special needs dependents rely on government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid, for support. Where an issue may arise is if an asset they receive as part of their inheritance negatively impacts their ability to continue to receive these benefits. Careful planning to prevent this from happening is in order. This can quickly become immensely complicated, so hiring a probate administration lawyer may be incredibly worthwhile.

Preserving Benefits

Many government programs have strict criteria when it comes to income and the value of any assets held. Exceeding these criteria means your dependent could lose their benefits. To prevent this from happening, consider exploring creating a special needs trust. This will allow you to set aside assets for your special needs dependent without impacting their ability to continue receiving the benefits they’ve come to rely on, maintaining their financial security and quality of life. The trust, like any type of trust, is managed by a trustee who administers it on behalf of the beneficiary.

Complexities Associated With Special Needs Trusts

Setting up a special needs trust demands careful consideration because there are several legal and financial factors at play. You’ll need to select an appropriate trustee who you can trust to oversee the trust and safeguard your dependent’s best interest while adhering to the agreement of the trust. This can be quite difficult to do.

On top of this, you’ll need to determine the ideal mechanism by which to fund the trust. This, too, can be incredibly difficult to decide. This may mean you transfer assets into the trust while the grantor is still alive. Alternatively, you can do this via a testamentary trust established in a will. Either approach has a set of implications you need to think through as you make your decision, and a probate lawyer can help you along the way, providing specific insight that will simplify things for you.

Legal And Guardianship Issues

Besides establishing a trust that meets the specific needs of your circumstances, you may need to address other issues, such as appointing a guardian or conservator. These individuals will be entrusted to make decisions for your special needs dependent if their disability inhibits their ability to do so. You’ll need to petition the court to appoint one.

Seeking Professional Guidance And Support

Making your way through the probate process with a special needs dependent requires an understanding of legal, financial, and caregiving realities you may not have been exposed to before. Although the law does not prohibit you from managing your probate case on your own, doing so may not be in your best interest. Several unforeseen pitfalls may be waiting for you, putting your dependent’s line of support at risk. Disputes sometimes arise, demanding the guidance of a probate dispute attorney.

A skilled probate attorney can provide you with the tailored insight you’ll need for your special needs probate case, saving your loved ones countless hours and immeasurable amounts of emotional energy. As much as this article serves as a reliable introductory primer on probate, you may benefit considerably from partnering with a process of probate lawyer who can ensure your loved ones are taken care of.