“What will happen to my child after I’m gone?”
That’s the question that keeps thousands of parents of children with special needs awake long into the night.
The amount of dedication they put into giving their child the good life they deserve can often seem irreplaceable, so the thought of who eventually will replace them is a source of constant anxiety. Guilt, whether for the life of the child at an in-patient care facility or for the lives of their other children who then take on the role of caring for their special needs sibling, is also a common emotion.
Fortunately, you can bring about the best possible outcome for your special needs child with a tailor made estate plan that can ensure that your child lives the best possible life after you are gone. An estate planning attorney can help you make a plan that gives your special needs child a good life, while also making sure that your other children are well attended to in your plan.
Below is a list of questions to consider that will leave you well-prepared:
What amount of financial support will he or she require over the rest of their life?
Think first of the amount of support you are currently providing. Remember, this is not purely a question of dollars spent: how much of your time is devoted to their care and what could those services cost? Don’t forget to calculate the additional costs that may arise as they advance into adulthood, or even into their senior years. Lastly, take stock of your estate–how much will you be able to provide them? A life insurance policy may be the solution if your estate will not be enough to cover it all.
What amount of wealth will they inherit?
There is real risk involved in receiving an inheritance while benefiting from government programs, such as Medical Assistance or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The potential exists for your child to be disqualified from these benefits simply by inheriting your wealth. Fortunately, you can plan ahead of time and ensure your child need never risk crossing that line. Establishing a supplemental needs trust will help you avoid the cutoff while still providing for your child.
How will your other children be treated?
Fair and equal treatment of all a family’s children in an inheritance is a high priority for many parents, yet circumstances may not always allow it. Particularly for families with a special needs child and limited financial resources, it may be an unachievable dream. If you suspect that you may not be able to leave all of your children an equal share, it is important to talk it over with them. After all, there are some things worth more than money–items of sentimental value will be passed along, as well, so create a dialogue with you children to find out what might make up for the difference.
Who will manage your special needs child’s finances?
It will be necessary to name a trustee (or trustees) to manage your special needs child’s finances if you choose to establish a supplemental needs trust. You need to be sure that this person (or people) truly care about your child and will handle the assets in the trust to the child’s benefit. Don’t forget to talk this over with your chosen trustee! Make sure that he or she is ready and willing to accept the responsibilities involved.
Beyond just the financial, how do you want your child cared for after you are gone? How can you use your financial resources to ensure that actually happens? Call our office today at 612-206-3701 or reach out via our online contact form to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about this in a family estate planning consultation, where we can discuss how to build provisions into a trust that makes it more likely that your child’s care will continue in alignment with your desires, hopes and dreams for their future.
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