Estate planning is important regardless of an individual’s circumstances. However, it is even more important when someone has a special needs child. Whether the child is a minor or an adult, it is important to consider the child’s needs when putting together an estate plan.

Why Is Special Needs Estate Planning Important?

Parents of children with special needs are normally the individuals providing the majority of, if not all of, the care taking on a daily basis for their children, even as they go into adulthood.

However, what happens to that child when his or her parents pass away? Suddenly, that child is without financial support, medication assistance and even a physical place to live. Further, once that child’s parent passes away, suddenly the child will begin receiving income from public benefit agencies, including social security and Medicaid.

What happens to that income? Odds are the child is not capable of handling this money on his or her own. It is important that something is laid out to ensure that the money is protected, it is used for the child’s living expenses, and the money is spread out and continued throughout the life of the child.

Another issue that often arises when parents leave an inheritance to their special needs child is that the money left to them could disqualify that child from the government benefits they were receiving.

The last thing a parent wants to do is get their child kick out of their living arrangements because they no longer qualify for special government programs or benefits.

What is Included in Special Needs Planning?

Two different aspects of the disabled child’s life are dealt with in special needs planning. Special needs planning includes provisions on designating a guardian or conservator for the child, if needed, as a minor and on into adulthood, if necessary.

These provisions also protect the financial well-being of the child, ensuring that he or she continues to enjoy the quality of his or her life, making sure that the child remains eligible for public benefits, managing the money and ensuring that the child will have money for future use through investments and access protection.

Special Needs Planning Provisions

There are many estate planning options that exist for a special needs child. Ideally, the best situation would be to create what is known as a Special Needs Trust. This document will allow the child to continue to receive public benefits given that the funds “inherited” by the child will not be going to the child but rather a Special Needs Trust.

This trust puts the financial-making authority in the hands of a trustee, who will ensure that decisions regarding any money are made in the best interests of the disabled child. It goes without saying that the most important decision to be made is then who should the trustee should be.

Who Should Be the Trustee?

The Trustee is an important position. This person will be making all of the decisions that secure the financial success of the funds in the special needs trust. This person may face pressure from other family members, will have to make tough decisions, and should be someone trustworthy.

Therefore, one should be careful in choosing a trustee for a special needs trust. Often times, choosing someone in the family, such as a parent or sibling, is a good idea so long as that person can truly handle the responsibility.

If choosing someone related is not an option, trust companies, financial institution, or an attorney can also be chosen to handle these matters. Co-trustees can also be chosen if one wishes to have more than one individual making these decisions. Ultimately, it depends on the specific family situation.

Contact Brian M. Douglas, LLC today

If you are not sure whether you need an attorney, come in for a consultation to discuss your situation. Call us today at (770) 933-9009 to schedule a consultation with a Greater Atlanta area estate planning lawyer today.