Any parent can tell you that each of their children are unique with their own individualized needs. Parents work hard to make sure the individual requirements of their children are met as well as possible. When your child has special needs, there are even more issues for you to consider. An estate plan helps to make sure that your friends and family are provided for after you pass away. If you have a special needs child, there are particular ways to make sure the needs of your child are met after you are gone.
One of the first considerations is to select a caregiver. If your special needs child is unable to care for him or herself without the assistance of another adult, you need to think about who will help your child when you are no longer able to do so. If the child is still a minor when you pass away, the other parent is likely to be the automatic choice under the law. That said, depending on the needs of your child, it may be better to indicate to the court that a better-educated adult or even a special needs facility would be better equipped to meet the child’s needs. Keep in mind, though, that the court is not bound by your preference and will make a decision based on the law and what is best for your child.
Another important issue to consider is whether your child is receiving need-based assistance. For example, if your child receives certain types of Social Security benefits or Medicaid, receiving a large inheritance would likely result in your child no longer being eligible to receive those benefits. The assets you leave to your child would have to be exhausted before the child could re-apply for those state or federal benefits. Instead, you should talk to your attorney about a special needs trust. With this type of trust, you can provide assets for your child’s future needs while also avoiding stripping your child of eligibility for state benefits.
Finally, carefully consider who would be best suited to look after the assets you leave for your child. In many cases, people select family members to act as trustees for special needs or other types of trusts. However, that is not always the case. Serving as a trustee or other fiduciary in charge of managing the affairs of your special needs child is a big responsibility. Depending on the size of your estate, you may want to instead designate an attorney as the trustee.
Call us today at (320) 299-4249 and talk to us about your special needs child. We can help you select the best way to protect your child and your assets.