When you have a child with special needs, the estate planning process should begin as soon as possible to ensure your child will be provided and cared for appropriately if something happens to you. You need to ensure you have planned for the child’s care throughout your lifetime, including making certain your child can afford necessary care as an adult.
There are several key issues you need to address as a parent if your child cannot live independently. First and foremost, where is your child going to live when you can no longer for him or her? Oftentimes, children will live with siblings or other relatives.
But what if this is not an option?
Parents will need to explore alternative options such as group homes or a similar type of facility where the child can live outside of the parent’s care and supervision. Facilities such as these can be very expensive. One common method is obtaining sufficient life insurance that would ensure that money was available to pay for the care of a child with a disability during their adult life.
Even if the disabled child is to live in a care facility, parents should name a legal guardian to act on behalf of and make decisions for the disabled child. A legal guardian should be a trusted person who the parents believe will fulfill his or her fiduciary duty and have the best interests of the disabled child at heart.
Parents also need to think about how to structure an inheritance. Most parents want to provide financially for the disabled child, even after the parents are gone. However, it is not advisable to transfer money or property to the child with the disability. This could result in the child losing access to important means-tested benefits such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid, which many disabled people rely on to cover their costs of care.
Creating a Special Needs Trust is one way to make sure a child with disabilities is provided for without risking the loss of benefits. The special needs trust can own assets left by the parents and can also be the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. The parents name a trustee to manage the trust assets and provide detailed instructions about how trust assets are to be used to enhance the quality of life of the child with the disability.
Because the trust actually owns the assets, Medicaid or other benefits will not be lost and the trust assets can be used to provide for supplemental needs not covered by government benefits.
Getting Help from Special Needs Planning
The Law Office of Jason R. Ebacher can provide invaluable advice on providing for your child with special needs when you are no longer able to.
To find out more about how the Law Office of Jason R. Ebacher can help you and your family prepare for the future, please call (978) 269-4485 or contact us online at any time.