Georgia's Trusted Healthcare
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The Most Important Lists You Need To Write Today  

Medication List Special Needs Trusts Jeyaram & AssociatesMost of us write lists – To Do Lists, Bucket Lists, Christmas Lists, Grocery Lists, Wish Lists, etc. But the most important lists we need to write are the ones that could be life-saving for our differently abled children.

Medications & Healthcare Providers Lists

Many of us are on auto pilot and can recite our child’s medication list and dosage by heart. However, if something were to happen to us, it’s important for someone else to be able to jump in and continue our child’s medications.

With many of our differently abled children, these medications are critical to their overall health – and in some cases – they could mean a matter of life or death. As a result, Medication Lists should include the name of the medications, dosage, frequency, purpose of the medication, how the medications are administered, where the medications are located (ex. fridge), and the name of the pharmacy for each medication.

Another list we need to make is a list of all of our child’s medical providers. The Medical Providers List should include our child’s primary care physician, specialists, pharmacists and therapists. At minimum, this list should include their names, locations and phone numbers. In addition, this list should include your child’s insurance ID number(s) and date of birth.

Add Special Notes

As part of our lists, I also recommend including the date last seen by each of the health care providers, as well as any other special notes or information. For example, we have a great relationship with one of our pharmacists, and she is well versed in our son’s medical history.

We’ve included a note in our Medical Provider List that she be contacted for anything related to our son’s medicines. Further, on our son’s Medication List, we’ve noted that we hide his nighttime medicine in applesauce.

You’ve Probably Already Created It

Many of us have already created these lists for things like Katie Beckett applications or IEPs. And while they take just a few minutes to create, these lists could ultimately be lifesaving if something happened to you and someone needed to immediately begin caring for your child.

Make Sure This Information Is Part Of Your Special Needs Estate Plan

Finally, I recommend that these lists be included in your special needs estate plan. Families often include these lists as part of their annual letter to their child’s guardian.

It’s important for everyone to know who to contact and how to continue your child’s medications in case of an emergency. So while we’re busy making all our lists, you can now add one more item to your To-Do List – your child’s Medication and Healthcare Providers List.

Contact Us

If you need help with your special needs estate plan, we’d love to help. We’ve helped hundreds of families create legal plans that give them a peace of mind should anything happen to them. DJ@JeyLaw.com 678.325.3872.

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Hire A Lawyer For Your Will vs. Using An Online Service

Online Will Hire Attorney Jeyaram Georgia TrustRecently we saw an article – written by a non lawyer – recommending individuals and families complete their wills online as a way to save money.

However, there are several major flaws with this “money-saving approach” and online wills could ultimately end up costing an individual or family significantly more money than what they initially intended to pay.

Top 10 Reasons Why Lawyers Should Help You Write Your Will

  1. Experienced estate planning attorneys will create personalized plans for you based on a vast array of estate planning tools that “do-it-yourself” online wills do not consider.
  2. Online wills provide you with generic “one-size-fits-all” documents that are not tailored to your specific needs. Your life is not a one-size-fits-all and your will should reflect that.
  3. When partnering with a lawyer, you are able to include specific details and information that the online forms do not allow you to include due to space limitations or lack of fields on the forms.
  4. Online services also try to “up sell” customers through the process – the low cost offer is often a “hook” for more expensive packages. Almost all estate planning attorneys offer an upfront, flat fee for their wills.
  5. As your life situations change, your lawyer can easily help you update and change your legal plan as needed so that it best protects your loved ones and assets. Online forms cannot provide the guidance or recommendations attorneys can.
  6. Attorneys will have seen literally hundreds of cases and will be able to help you make informed decisions and avoid pitfalls they have seen in other cases.
  7. An attorney will help you identify ways to minimize your tax liabilities upon your passing. Online will services typically do not provide this feature.
  8. If you need something more than a basic will, such as a trust or special needs trust, online services often cannot address the complexity involved in these legal matters.
  9. Online forms cannot provide you guidance or help you think through important decisions such as who you should select as a guardian or trustee. An experienced attorney will help you think through the process and help you make a decision that you’re comfortable with.
  10. Most importantly, when it’s time for your will to be executed, your family will need to hire an attorney. If your family already has an established relationship with an experienced estate planning attorney, this is one less thing for a grieving – and often overwhelmed – family to have to deal with upon your passing.

A Will Should NOT Be A One Size Fits All 

When it comes to protecting your family and assets, we recommend investing in the process of writing your will and partnering with an attorney to prevent any future headaches or heartaches.

When you meet with an estate planning attorney, they will talk to you about your life, your family, your wishes and desires. They’ll also talk to you about your assets, your desires for how they should be distributed and what the best ways are to minimize tax liabilities. Online wills cannot provide this guidance.

Your life is not generic – neither should your will.

We Can Help

We’ve helped hundreds of families create and update their wills and trusts to best reflect and protect their families and assets.

When you meet with us, we carefully listen to your unique needs and will create a customized will or trust based on those needs and your wishes. We’re here to help you create a plan that gives you peace of mind. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

When & How Often Should You Update Your Will?

Wills Trusts Special Needs Trust Attorney Jeyaram & Associates One of the biggest misperceptions about wills and trusts is that once they’re written they cannot be changed or that it’s difficult to change a will or trust.

This is not true.

Wills and trusts should be viewed as “organic” and “living” documents that can and should be updated as your life changes.

Nothing Stays The Same

We all know the adage “nothing stays the same” to be true. Our lives and circumstances always change – sometimes quickly or in ways that we never anticipated. These changes often impact decisions we’ve made in our will and trust, and as a result, we need to update and change our wills and trusts to reflect those changes.

Following is a sample list of life changes as to when you should update or change your will:

  • Addition of a child (ex. birth or adoption)
  • Death of someone named in the will (ex. guardian, trustee, spouse, child, etc.)
  • Divorce or marriage
  • Change of address
  • A minor turns 18
  • Retirement
  • Your property value significantly changes (decreases or increases)
  • Acquisition of significant assets or finances (ex. an inheritance)
  • Significant change in health (yours or someone named in the will or trust)
  • Prior to turning 701/2 years of age if you have an IRA, 401(k), or other qualified plan that requires you to begin taking distributions at age 701/2.

You Change Your Mind

Recently we had a client update their special needs trust to reflect changes in their relationship with an individual they listed a guardian. The individual initially listed as guardian was experiencing significant personal changes that resulted in estranged relations with the family. As a result, the client named a new guardian for his children.

Even if something as significant as the aforementioned doesn’t happen, you can always update or change individuals listed in your will or trust or how your assets should be allocated. Sometimes our opinions change or our needs change. As a result, it’s important to update your will or trust to reflect those changes.

Time & Changes In The Law

If you have a special needs trust in place, I always encourage clients to review them on an annual basis – especially the letter to guardians. The letter to guardians is the organic plan that details how to best care for a differently abled child if something suddenly happens to you. A lot can change in a year with a child – anything from new routines to new medical conditions to new favorite toys. This letter is the life line for guardians.

Updating your will or trust every 3 to 5 years is ideal. During that time, changes in estate planning laws may have occurred and your attorney can advise you accordingly.

Easy To Update

It’s important to never try to change or update your will or trust by simply crossing out or adding words or lines on the will. These edits invite confusion and could be challenged in court as to whether they are legally valid. As a result, it’s best to contact your attorney when you need to make updates.

While the initial will may take a bit of time to complete since you’re making important legal decisions to protect your family and asset, updating your will or trust is not as involved. Your attorney will prepare a new will for you to sign to revokes the earlier one.

We Can Help

We’ve helped hundreds of families create and update their wills to best reflect and protect their families and assets as their situations change. If you’re not sure how changes in your life will impact your will, just call us. That’s what we’re here for. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

Individuals With Disabilities Can Now Set Up Their Own Special Needs Trusts

Special Needs Trust, Jeyaram Associates, Disability, Wills, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a letter providing guidance to states indicating that individuals with disabilities can now set up their own special needs trust.

Prior to this guidance from CMS, only guardians, caregivers, family members or other third parties could set up a trust on behalf of the individual with a disability.

This is a step in the right direction in allowing people with disabilities to advocate for themselves and be self-reliant to the greatest extent possible.

Individuals with the cognitive ability to set up their own Special Needs Trust and who are under the age of 65 can now create a trust to set aside assets without negatively impacting their eligibility for Medicaid.

Why A Special Needs Trust?

Eligibility for many government benefits is determined based on the resources an individual with a disability has in his or her name.

If a loved one has too many resources, even by just one dollar, he or she may not qualify for, or may even lose, benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.

Even if your loved one does not currently receive government assistance, he or she may need it in the future.

A special needs trust is a way to protect your loved one’s current resources and future benefits.

Through a special needs trust you can leave assets to your child or ward without negatively impacting his or her government benefits.

How Funds From A Special Needs Trust Can Be Used

Government benefits only cover basics such as medical care, food, clothing, and shelter.

Through a special needs trust, a designated trustee for your loved one will be able to provide your child or adult ward with access to things such as:

• a personal care attendant

• out of pocket medical and dental expenses

• vacations

• home furnishings

• vehicles

• hobbies

• education

How To Set Up A Special Needs Trust

A special needs trust is usually part of a comprehensive Special Needs Estate Plan. Our Special Needs Estate Plan includes:

•  Last will and testament

•  Advanced medical directives

•  Financial and durable powers of attorney

•  HIPAA waivers

•  Legacy statement

•  Letters to guardians

•  Child safety and protection cards

•  Original document storage in our vault

•  And, perhaps most importantly, guardianship designations for minor children

We Can Help

We’ve helped hundreds of families set up Special Needs Trusts. As the parent of a child with disabilities, we understand the need to protect your child’s current or future government benefits financial future.

I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

Not Sure Who Should Be Your Child’s Guardian? Here Are Some Tips

Guardian, Special Needs Trusts, Attorney, Atlanta, GA Recently a family came in for a special needs trust consult and they were at a loss as to whom they should designate as their child’s guardian.

Although the wife had two sisters, neither of them lived close by; nor took an interest in their intellectually disabled niece. The husband also had a sister, but she didn’t have any children – and never wanted any.

Although both of the couple’s parents were eager to be guardians, the parents were of advanced age and in poor health. And as for extended relatives, well, they were extended and didn’t have any meaningful contact with their family.

It’s OK If The Guardian Is NOT Biologically Related

This scenario is more frequent than may you think. We often talk with families who do not have any biological family that can or want to serve as their special needs child’s guardian. And that’s OK.

You don’t want to designate individuals as guardians if they don’t want to be or do not have a meaningful relationship with your child.

“Our Chosen Family”

One of the things that my wife and I have learned through the years (and being in a similar situation as the couple that came to my office) is that you create what we call “Our Chosen Family.”

Our Chosen Family consists of people who WANT to be a part of our lives and enjoy spending time not only with us, but our special needs son. These are people who we’ve come to trust and love us as if they were our own biological family – and it’s these same people who we have chosen to be our children’s guardians.

Something to consider is that by taking the pressure off of your biological family, this may encourage them to remain engaged with your child. Many times biological family members want to help, but may not be in a position to assume guardianship.

Just because you do not choose someone as guardian, does not mean that they cannot be involved in your child’s life and/or be of assistance to the guardian.

There are several ways to keep non-guardians involved including informal roles like “God-parent” or more formal structures like Micro-Boards.

Things to Consider When Choosing A Guardian

When considering who to chose as your child’s guardian, here are some things to consider:

  • Does the potential guardian have a meaningful relationship with your child?
  • Would your child need to move to live with the guardian? How would this impact your child’s therapies or education?
  • Does the potential guardian have the energy and health to take care of your child?
  • Are they trustworthy and responsible?
  • Would the potential guardian continue to care for your child in a way that you want?
  • Most importantly, do they WANT to be a part of your family and be your child’s caregiver if something were to happen to you?

Also, something to keep in mind is that NO ONE will ever care for your child like you do. So it’s important to keep this in mind and be realistic when selecting a guardian.

We hope that our child will never need a guardian, but if they do, this person will need to quickly step in and make sure your child receives the love and care they need.

We Can Help You Decide

The story of the couple that came into my office has a happy ending.

After talking with them about their “Chosen Family,” the answer as to whom should be their daughter’s guardian was much easier and the person they selected gave them great peace of mind.

So even though the guardian they selected was not biologically related, the guardian was their “Chosen Family.”

If you’re struggling with who to designate as a guardian for your child, we can help. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com and 678.325.3872.

#SpecialNeedsTrusts #Guardians #ChosenFamily

Creating A Special Needs Trust Is Easier Than You Think

Special Needs Trust, Attorney, Georgia, Atlanta, Duluth, Jeyaram & AssociatesWe all know putting into place a will and special needs trust is extremely important to help protect our special needs child now and in the future.

But with all the doctors appointments, therapies, calls to the insurance company and specialists, school work and not to mention laundry, bath time and meal preparation, finding the time to put into place a will and special needs trust seems impossible.

On most days, we’re lucky if we get to drink our cup of coffee while it’s still lukewarm. (I know I gave up the hope of drinking hot coffee a long time ago!)

No, Really. It’s Easier Than You Think

However putting into place a special needs trust really is easier than you think, and the process simply starts with a phone call or an email. Seriously. A phone call or email. That’s it.

When you call us, we’ll get your name and email address and then you’ll receive a questionnaire to complete. Don’t worry – it’s not like applying for a home loan or taking the SAT. And the good news is, you’ll already know most – if not all – of the answers.

Seriously, we ask things like your name, address, your child’s name and disability, a list of your assets, and whom you’d like to take care of your child if something were to happen to you.

No Right Or Wrong Answers

Most of these are answers we can recite in our sleep. No prep needed and there are no right or wrong answers. Further, don’t worry if you don’t know all the answers or if you have questions (like whom you should name as your child’s guardian). We’re here to help you, and we will guide you through the process to ensure that the special needs trust best meets your family’s needs.

Once you complete the form, I’ll review it and follow up with you if I have any questions. And then, a draft of your will and the special needs trust is created and sent to you to review.

We’re Here To Help You

We know you’re busy and adding one more thing to your “to-do” list seems daunting. But setting up a special needs trust is an important legal document to help protect your family and child with special needs. My email address is DJ@JeyLaw.com or you can call me at 678.325.3872. And when you come to the office to sign your will and special needs trust, I’ll have a hot cup of coffee waiting for you. 🙂

How To Choose A Trustee

Trustee, Trust, Will, Estate Planning, Attorney, Lawyer, Jeyaram, Georgia, AtlantaWhen you set up a trust to protect your assets and finances, one of the most important decisions you will make is who will serve as your trustee.

The trustee (or trustees) is someone who will manage your money and property if you become incapacitated (living will) or for the benefit of others after you pass.

The trustee has a lot of authority, so it’s important to select someone you not only trust and have great confidence in, but also:

  • Makes smart financial decisions
  • Is responsible
  • Can meet deadlines (ex. paying bills on time and filing taxes)
  • Has a healthy relationship with your family
  • Is good at communicating as many decisions and ongoing conversations will need to occur.

Trustees are most often a family member or an institution. Following are some benefits and disadvantages to both:

Family Member

Perhaps the biggest benefits of selecting a family member as a trustee is that they may not charge you a fee to be the trustee and most likely, they have a good understanding of how your family works and what it needs.

However, on the flip side, if you choose a family member to be the trustee it could lead to conflict or resentment especially if there is a separate guardian involved for a minor child or disabled adult. Further, the family member may not have financial prowess and may need to hire someone to help them.

Finally, the family member could become incapacitated, get divorced or pass away. As a result, if you select a family member as a trustee, it’s important to name a successor trustee.

An Institution

If you choose a bank or financial institution as the trustee, there is stability (it most likely won’t die) and more likely financial acumen than a family member. The bank can handle any investments, tax preparations, management, and accounting of the trust’s finances. Further, the bank is regulated by federal laws and uninvolved in family politics.

The downside of naming a bank or financial institution as a trustee is cost. Sometimes banks have a minimum fee. This may make banks cost-prohibitive for small trusts. Further, while the bank may not die, employees at the bank can change frequently making it difficult to build relationships.

Still Not Sure?

Choosing the right trustee is an important decision and can be stressful as there are many factors to consider. However, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you determine whether a family member or an institution will be the best choice for you based on your wants and family’s needs.

We’re Here To Help

DJ Jeyaram is an experienced estate planning attorney who specializes in helping families create trusts – including identifying the best trustee – to meet their needs and situations.

You will work directly with DJ in creating a will or trust that reflects your family. DJ can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

How To Obtain Guardianship For Your Special Needs Child

Guardianship Attorney GeorgiaIn many states, including Georgia, as soon as your special needs child turns 18, he or she becomes a legal adult and is assumed to be able to make decisions on their own behalf unless a court determines otherwise.

However, if you determine that retaining guardianship over your child once he or she turns 18 is in your child’s best interest, here’s how you do it. (See related post: Is Guardianship The Right Choice When Your Special Needs Child Turns 18?)

Start Planning BEFORE Your Child Turns 18

Requesting guardianship can be a lengthy and involved legal process. In order to retain guardianship of your child, you need to have the court appoint you as your child’s guardian.

To make sure there is not a gap in your child’s guardianship when he or she turns 18, it’s important to prepare your petition to the court well in advance of your child’s 18th birthday. If there is a gap in guardianship (i.e. your child turns 18 before you have guardianship) and a decision needs to be made about your child’s health or legal rights, it could cause some serious problems.

Step-By-Step Process

  • Every state’s guardianship laws differ slightly and the process can be daunting. This is where hiring an attorney to help guide you through the process is beneficial.
  • There are several forms you will need to complete, including forms that will need to be completed by a qualified physician to evaluate your child.
  • Once you submit the forms, your child will need to appear in court with you. As much as possible, you will want to help your child understand the process and what to expect in advance of actually appearing in court.
  • The court will appoint a representative for your child to help determine the merits of your claim that your child is not competent to act on his or her own behalf and that guardianship is in fact the right choice. The representative will most likely want to meet and visit with your child. In addition, in some circumstances, the representative may visit your child at home.
  • Finally, you will need to attend a hearing with your child. At this point, the judge will review and determine if your child is incapacitated and, if so, to what extent he or she requires assistance. Further, the judge will then decide if the person petitioning for guardianship will be appointed as guardian.

Some Things To Consider 

  • You and your spouse or significant other can petition the court to share guardianship. You will become co-guardians.
  • If your child’s need are complex, you can request that a non-profit agency or public or private corporation serve as your child’s guardian.
  • Guardianship may not be the right solution for your child. There are alternatives such as conservator or limited guardianship that give your child more independence.

Once You Are Awarded Guardianship

The paperwork doesn’t stop once you’re awarded guardianship. Every year you will need to file detailed reports about your child’s finances and overall well being. In some states, guardians must also provide proof that they’ve made adequate residential arrangements as well as provided appropriate healthcare services.

If the guardian cannot prove that they have adequately provided for their adult ward, then the court can remove the adult ward and name a different guardian.

Getting Started

As a parent of a special needs child and an attorney with extensive experience with legal issues relating to special needs children, I can help you navigate the complex guardianship process. DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

Jeyaram & Associates and The Calbos Law Firm Create a One-Stop-Shop for Special Needs Families

Special Needs Law Firm: IEPs, 504 Plans, Special Needs Trusts, GuardianshipCreating the first of its kind in Georgia, Jeyaram & Associates and The Calbos Law Firm are collaborating to provide a one-stop shop of legal services for Georgia families with special needs children.

The two Georgia-based law firms are working together to provide comprehensive legal services and advice for parents and caregivers who need help with:

  • IEPs
  • 504s Plans
  • Education Mediation and Litigation
  • Guardianship
  • Katie Beckett Appeals
  • Medicaid
  • Special Needs Trust Planning
  • Advance & Medical Directives
  • Medical and Durable Power of Attorneys

Both firms have a long history of  advocating for special needs children and ensuring they receive the medical and educational benefits they deserve and need. While both firms have obtained excellent results for their clients separately, together they bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience and offer comprehensive legal services to special needs families and serve as a formidable opposition to government entities.

Jeyaram & Associates and The Calbos Law Firm have extensive professional and personal experience and expertise in helping families with special needs children and are active in the special needs community.

Mr. Jeyaram has a special needs son and Principal Christy Calbos of The Calbos Law Firm has three special needs family members.

Because the two firms are active in the special needs community, they are able to connect families with other professionals and experts who are committed to and specialize in helping special needs families. From financial planners to CPAs and more – the firms have built an extensive and trusted network to help special need families.

About The Calbos Law Firm

Ms. Calbos brings unique expertise and experience to the firm by having represented multiple county school districts prior to representing families with special needs children. She has an intimate understanding of schools’ perspectives as well as families with special needs students. Currently Ms. Calbos represents special needs students for students age 3 to 22 in public schools by ensuring they receive appropriate education and services through IEPs and 504 Plans.

About Jeyaram & Associates

Mr. Jeyaram’s experience as a former Georgia Administrative Law Judge and his current healthcare and estate planning legal practice give him a distinct advantage in helping families navigate the complex government maze for benefits. Mr. Jeyaram has helped more than a 100 families overturn Katie Beckett denials, as well as create Special Needs Trusts to protect their special needs children’s current and future benefits and assets.