Legal and Financial Issues

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LAJAC-bankOnce I become an adult, will I be responsible for my own decision-making?

All adults are entitled to make their own decisions. Some adults with disabilities need help making certain decisions, but can still make others on their own. Some are not able to make decisions at all.

Supported decision making is one way of getting help making decisions. It involves choosing a trusted person who can give you the support you need. Click here for information about supported decision making models.

You may be able to give a trusted person the ability to help you make medical or financial decisions by signing a Power of Attorney, which is a legal document.

When you turn 18, your family or caretakers might continue to make decisions for you by applying for  Conservatorship. Conservatorship is when a trusted adult is chosen to make your decisions. The details about your ability to make decisions is discussed and decided in court, and can have a big effect on your life.

Part of the process includes you and your caregivers meeting with court officials to figure out the areas you can handle by yourself and the areas where you need help. It is important that you understand everything that happens before and during your court date, so be sure to ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable with the outcome.

To learn more about powers of attorney and conservatorship, and to get answers to commonly asked questions, click here for additional resources.

Will I have enough money to live?

*You cannot have more than $2,000 of savings while getting government benefits, so it is really important to talk to an attorney, accountant and/or your case manager to be sure you are managing your finances the right way.

It is important to be sure you have enough money to live well for the rest of your life. Because your public benefits may not cover all of your expenses, it is really important to have a plan. Learning how to make and stick with a budget can help.

Click here for a worksheet on how to create a budget.

There are many ways to save money for the future. It is very important to talk with an expert like an  attorney, accountant, financial planner or trusted caregiver who has experience working with adults with special needs.

The World Institute on Disability published a free book called, “EQUITY: Asset Building Strategies for People with Disabilities, A Guide to Financial Empowerment” that is full of practical tips and information for building your financial future.

Able Accounts – These are savings accounts that let individuals with disabilities save some money. The money in this kind of account won’t be counted against you if you get SSI or other public benefits. You can use money in an ABLE account for things like: healthcare, housing, transportation, employment training and support services, assistive technology, personal support services, education, financial and administrative services and other things that help you become more independent and happy.

You will be able to open an ABLE account in almost any state that offers them. Some states, like Florida, have decided to only let people who live in their state open accounts.

STABLE accounts are now available in Ohio.

Tennessee is now offering ABLETN accounts.

Nebraska calls their ABLE accounts ENABLE accounts.

Programs are also expected to launch in Virginia and Florida as well.

Special Needs Trusts and ABLE accounts were discussed at a recent Knowledge is Power workshop. You can see the videos and download the presentations here.

For a fact sheet about the financial tools available for adults with special needs, click here.

The ABLE National Resource Center has information about ABLE accounts, including videos explaining how the accounts will work.

For more information about legal and/or financial issues, click here to be connected with an LAJAC Case Manager or Intake Specialist.

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