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4 Important Questions When Doing an Estate Plan for a Child With Special Needs

When we think about children with special needs, we often think of how they might need extra medical care, a different approach to their education, or simply a little more assistance as they navigate their life. However, it is also important to remember that special needs children (as well as many special needs adults) require special considerations when it comes to estate planning, trusts, and long-term care.

If you are just beginning to think about how you will care for and protect your special needs child after your death, here are five questions to consider as you make a plan: 

  1. How much financial support will your child need in order to receive sufficient care over his or her lifetime? How much support are you giving your child now, and how could that amount change over time, as your child grows into an adult and ultimately into a senior citizen? Will your child be able to support himself or receive government benefits? Will his medical issues or disabilities change or worsen over time? How much financial support will you be able to give?
  2. How will you protect your child’s government benefits? If your child receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicare, or Med-Cal, it is vital that the money you leave to them will not prevent them from receiving the benefits that they need. Often this means leaving your money to a third-party trust.
  3. How will you treat your other children equally in your will and trusts? While it is extremely important that your special needs child has his or her needs met after you are no longer able to be there, it is also important that your other children are treated fairly. This may be as simple as sitting down your family and explaining how you calculated the financial needs of your special needs child as well as how you plan to distribute your other assets fairly.
  4. How can you ensure that your child’s funds are properly managed and distributed after your death? Caring for your special needs child after you pass is not nearly as simple as leaving them a lump sum of money and a piece of property. Not only will you likely need to create a special needs trust, you will also need to choose a trustee that you know cares about and will care for your child. A shocking number of trustees have taken advantage of their responsibilities in the past, but there are steps you can take to prevent these issues.

If you would like to talk about how the proper estate plan can help and protect your child with special needs, please call our office.