Every parent has concerns about their child and his or her future. For parents who have a child with special needs, worries about the future are much more complex and long-term. For parents who have a child with autism or a chronic illness that may affect his or her ability to work during adulthood, it’s wise to meet with an estate planning professional who will listen to concerns, provide recommendations for specific estate planning tools and assist in the establish and maintenance of such.
When attempting to provide for the future financial needs of a child with special needs, it’s important to take steps to maintain a child’s eligibility for applicable federal benefits. One of the best ways to do this and also provide for a child’s future is to establish what’s known as a supplemental or special needs trust.
Assets derived from legal settlements, insurance policies and inheritances can be used to fund a special needs trust. Additionally, parents would be wise to ensure family members who may wish to provide a child with a monetary gift also gift the assets directly to the trust. Assets held in a trust will be managed by a named trustee and can be used to provide for a child’s future housing, motor vehicle, in-home medical care, necessary equipment and other basic necessities.
It’s also important to include mention of a special needs trust in one’s will and to explicitly state that assets are left directly to the trust. For parents with a minor-aged child, a will should also be used to name a legal guardian. This ensures that, should something happen where both parents are unable to care for a child, the named legal guardian will assume the role of guardian and care provider.
All parents hope to be able to provide for a child’s future. However, in the case of a special needs child, providing for his or her future becomes much more important. An attorney who handles estate planning and long-term care planning matters can assist parents and help ease worries about a child’s future.
Source: KidsHealth.org, “Financial Planning for Kids With Special Needs,” 2015
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