You are devoted to caring for your child with special needs, but have you thought about what will happen after you are gone? What if you are incapacitated by an accident in the near future? Every family needs to think about these eventualities, but families with children who are autistic, physically disabled, have Down syndrome or are otherwise impaired need to pay special attention to how they plan for the future.
The estate planning lawyers at The Ashmore Law Firm have experience helping families protect children with special needs through comprehensive, custom estate plans. Learn about your options and contact us to find out how we could give your family the peace of mind that comes with knowing your child will be cared for when you can no longer do it.
Important Considerations for Parents With Special Needs Children
Parents who have a child with special needs often fail to recognize all they do for their child to ensure their health, safety, education, enrichment, and productivity. However, it’s important to take stock of all you do to care for your child so that you can ensure that the care continues if something happens to you and you are no longer about to do it. Through a custom estate plan, you can do the following:
Outline your child’s needs and abilities
You know what your child’s needs and abilities are better than anyone else. Providing a description of their strengths and weaknesses as part of the estate plan will help future caregivers and trust administrators.
Express your wishes
What kind of life do you want your child to be able to live? What programs, therapies, and activities do you hope they will continue? A letter to a future caregiver can outline what you had planned to provide for your child in the future.
Name a guardian
It is essential that you name a guardian for a child who will honor your wishes for the kind of care you want your child to receive in your absence. This could be a family member or other trusted individual, or it could be a facility that you have checked out and approved.
Provide money for their care
You want your child to have access to money to pay for their needs throughout their life. A special needs estate plan can set money aside for just that purpose.
Ensure that they qualify for government benefits
If your child is eligible for need-based government benefits, you do not want to jeopardize that by leaving them too much money. An experienced special needs estate planning lawyer can help you do that.
Every family is unique; our team will meet with you to learn about your specific needs and desires for your special needs child.
What a Special Needs Trust Can Accomplish for Your Child
Most estate plans for families who have a child with special needs will include a special needs trust. You can place money in this trust to provide for your disabled child’s care without jeopardizing their government benefits. During your lifetime, you will be the grantor (one who created and funds the trust) and the trustee (one who manages the money). You will also name a successor trustee who will oversee the funds for the benefit of your child after you are gone. If the child is receiving public benefits, funds from a special needs trust cannot be used for food, shelter, or medical care but can be used for enrichment, travel, education, recreation, and utility bills. Your estate planning attorney can explain how these trusts work.