If a member of your family has a learning disability planning for the future social and financial well being of all concerned is particularly important. The law relating to Wills and Trusts is complex and you will need the advice of an experienced solicitor who can guide you on both lifetime planning and the preparation of a will.
If a family member with a learning disability receives money as a gift or an inheritance, difficulties can arise. These may include:-
i) The loss of means tested benefits.
ii) Increased vulnerability to exploitation by others.
iii) Rapid loss of finances which could have provided prolonged support.
iv) The necessity of a Court appointed Controller to manage these finances, which is costly and time consuming.
It is likely that a legal arrangement called a Trust will be part of a future family plan. This could be set up during a lifetime or through a Will. Two commonly used Trust options are Discretionary Trusts and Disabled Person’s Trusts. A Trust allows assets such as investments, cash or property, to be held by trusted family or friends, (or if necessary professionals such as solicitors or accountants), for the benefit of others – beneficiaries.
The wording of a Trust gives Trustees powers to use the assets to benefit particular people. Further informal guidance as to hopes and aspirations, can be given through a Letter of Wishes.
Linda Johnston is recognised as specialising in future planning for families and carers of persons with a disability. She is often asked to speak with carers groups by organisations such as Mencap and Positive Futures.