Wednesday, June 22, 2011


By John Dowson Ch lp

Emotion and confusion often marks the lives of people with disabilities when it comes to long range planning by their families when they die without leaving specific plans and resources for their family member with a disability. Inevitably, with no plans for the future, the courts and public agencies will move in to deal with the problem, which are now beset with government fiscal woes, growing bureaucracies and curtailed services. Families who want to leave money to their sons/daughter or grandchildren with a disability may disqualify them from most of the public programs available to people with disabilities in Canada. Programs such as the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), Supportive Independent Living, assisted public housing and a host of services and programs, all required recipients to have resources of less than their provincial asset limit. The current threshold in Ontario is $5,000.

In spite of alternatives for lifetime planning, very few families who have a family member with a disability actually take steps to provide resources and programs for their family member after their death. People with disabilities are facing increasingly tragic alternatives when their families have not adequately provided for, or planned for their future financial security after they’ve gone. In their later years people with a disability are destined to eke out a living relying on food banks and homeless shelters. In Canada there are more than one million people with a disability living with their families who have made little or no provision for them when the family members are no longer alive or able to provide assistance.

There are currently acceptable estate planning procedures whereby a person with a disability can participate in the benefits of an estate without jeopardizing their government benefits and entitlements. Disinheriting a child with a disability is not allowed in most provinces however an inheritance left in an absolute discretionary or special needs trust is considered an exempt asset in the majority of provinces and states. Families should familiarize themselves with these procedures before meeting with a lawyer

They should engage the services of a financial planner with experience and expert knowledge in this area to assist with the family’s estate plans. A reputable “Life Planner” or “Chartered Life Planner” (Ch lp) will recognize that most families who have a family member with a disability have limited resources. The planner’s primary job is to find available resources and reallocate them to the trust so that the future funding of the trust will be realistic without offending other children or creating a drawn-out legal battle should they or the government place claims against the estate and the financial plan.

In consultation with parents, caregivers and associations who support people with disabilities, Life TRUST Planning has developed a Comprehensive Life PLAN to financially assist people with disabilities when there are no longer any family members available. Life TRUST Planning offers workshops and seminars to help parents and relatives create a Comprehensive Life PLAN for their child or relative. Topics include Government entitlements, Disability Tax Credits, a Letter of intent, a Henson trust, how to select trustees, estate distribution and a living Legacy Life TRUST Plan. For more information or to book a seminar Contact: LifeTRUST Planning,60 Harrison Dr. Newmarket On. L3Y 4P4 1 800 638-7256 email or