Estate Planning Considerations When Your Family Member Receives AISH

The Assured Income for the Several Handicapped (“AISH”) program is a critical support for many disabled Albertans. Often parents or other family members will want to ensure that their disabled loved ones are left with the greatest resources possible when estate planning, while also ensuring that the support received through AISH is not jeopardized in the process.

In order to ensure this is accomplished, an estate plan should be specifically designed with the provisions of the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped Act and the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped General Regulation (collectively, the “AISH Legislation”) in mind.

Currently the AISH Legislation allows an AISH recipient to hold assets with a value of $100,000.00 and remain eligible to receive regular benefits. There is also a list of exempt assets that can benefit the recipient and are not included in the calculation of the value of the recipient’s assets. These exemptions include assets held in a trust for the AISH recipient, a principal residence, an automobile, and certain types of long-term investment accounts among other types of assets.

There are also maximum income requirements the AISH recipient can have and continue to receive benefits.

The numerical amounts in the AISH Legislation both for income levels and value of assets that may be held by the AISH recipient may change over time, and so it is important for estate plans to be designed with flexibility to accommodate possible future changes to the legislation. 

Generally, this is best accomplished through the use of a trust, wherein the testator (person making a will) names an individual or individuals to be the trustees of estate funds and hold and investment them for the benefit of the AISH recipient. These trusts can be designed with certain conditions and powers of discretion to ensure that the distributions made from the trust comply with the AISH Legislation. These trusts can be designed with the flexibility to accommodate future legislative changes, as well as the changing needs of the AISH recipient.

If you have a family member who receives AISH and you would like more information regarding how you can best plan your estate to provide for them while also ensuring they are able to maintain their AISH benefits, please contact one of our Edmonton wills and estates lawyers for further details.

This article was written by Ben Seigel.

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