It can be one of the most stressful decisions you’ll make as a parent, planning the estate for children with special needs. You sacrifice time and finances, sometimes having to forego employment responsibilities, in order to ensure proper care for your younger loved ones. With the back-to-school season upon us, perhaps you feel there is more you should be doing. When it comes to securing your child’s future, there absolutely is more you could do.
Sounds like more stress to add to your already-full plate, right? Your family has been counting on you and you’ve been delivering so far. You’re sticking to schedules for school events and doctor visits, and making it into the office on time. You are doing your best as it is! However, there are two more easy tasks to complete when it comes to planning the estate belonging to children with special needs:
Look into a “special needs trust”
Children with special needs are likely to receive government benefits. Therefore, a “special needs trust” is often recommended. This trust is created to supplement the government benefits received each month, but it should not supersede or conflict with those benefits. If this were to happen, the child may no longer be available for the benefits, and this will leave you as a parent with the burden of securing more money to support your child — from doctor appointments, to education, to affording a place to live. This could lead to more hours at work or taking on a second job when you’d rather be home taking care of your child. A special needs trust in place will help the family out during an emergency or when an unexpected coan arises. The trust is usually irrevocable and enforced upon the death of the parent or another party responsible for the trust. Sometimes, however, a special needs trust is designed to use for your child’s current expenditures. The trust is also a great way to give your child an added bonus of experiencing the things his or her friends may enjoy, such as ball games and movie nights.
Protect your child through his/her siblings
Sometimes, a child with special needs may be ineligible for government benefits if the parents’ income or asset level is too high. Again, if the special needs trust gives too generously, it may disqualify the child with special needs from receiving his or her government benefits. When this occurs, parents may opt to give their children permission to create a special needs trust to protect the sibling with special needs upon the surviving parent’s death. The trustees, or siblings, will be able to create the trust and hopefully help the child with special needs continue to receive government benefits.
There is a downside to this option, however. Let’s say a sibling takes on the commitment to support the child with special needs upon the demise of the parents. That sibling may fall ill, suffer from an auto accident or otherwise become unable to take care of the sister or brother. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure the sibling is a responsible individual — if he or she handles money poorly, then there is a chance that the child with special needs will not be cared for properly. It is a good idea to have a family meeting with an estate attorney to help determine which relatives would make the best caretakers.
Perhaps you have researched estate-planning solutions for children with special needs. This is great. Since your child must be cared for and protected at all times, we recommend that you do not leave the planning of your estate to chance. Your child must be able to live comfortably without the risk of losing the benefits afforded to them by the government. The two ways to protect children with special needs are great starts towards supporting them, but it is recommended that you reach out to an estate attorney for advice. Our office is experienced with special needs trusts and the dynamics involved when caring for children in need of specialized care. We are ready to help your family throughout the estate-planning process. Please feel free to contact us today and have peace of mind when it comes to caring for all of your children.