How to Create a Lifetime of Care for a Special Needs Child
Parents of children with special needs usually share one overriding concern: what will happen to my child after I’m gone? They also struggle with guilt for what they envision as an eventual destiny for their other children who might assume care of their special needs sibling.
This is what estate planning was made for. You can do something right now to ensure your special needs child has the proper care for the rest of his or her life. As you consult with your attorney to create a special needs trust or other estate planning tools, take into consideration the following:
The amount of financial support your special needs child will require over his or her life. You should start by calculating how much support you are providing now and then think about the support they will need as they reach adulthood and into their senior years. Consider if he or she will be able to provide any of their own support, or will rely on government benefits. Of course, you also need to estimate how much you are able to give.
Governmental benefits protection. If your child already receives government benefits from Medicare or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your plan will need to take this into consideration and not provide your child with too much income to disqualify them from these benefits. Usually this can be avoided through the creation of a special needs trust.
How your other children fit into your estate plan. A vast majority of parents want to ensure equal treatment for all their children when it comes to an inheritance. Sometimes, with a special needs child, this is not possible if parents have limited financial resources. If this will be true for you, be sure you talk with your other children about your plan and discuss how distribution of other assets might even this up a little for them.
Who will manage your special needs child’s finances. When you create a special needs trust, you will need to name a trustee or trustees to manage the trust assets for the benefit of your child. Choose someone you know who cares about your child and who is willing to assume the responsibilities of caring for him or her.