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Estate Planning for Families with Special Needs Children

March 17, 2021

Families with special needs children need to take extra care when making plans for their estate. When the parents of special needs children are no longer around to care for their son or daughter, their estates must play the role of enhancing and enriching their children’s life. From enrolling in essential public benefits like Medicaid to creating a trust that will ensure they are financially covered for the remainder of their life, you will want to be informed about the options available to you. If you’re currently wondering when is the right time to begin estate planning for your special needs child, a Branson estate planning lawyer can help you determine the best approach for you.

Within a special needs estate plan, the goal will always be to be able to provide comfort and care for your child even after you’ve passed on. A sound estate plan also considers how it can restrict funds so that the money is properly managed and extended through the duration of your child’s lifetime. Because special needs children often need expensive medical care, having a strategic plan is key.

Best Practices When Creating an Estate Plan for Special Needs Children

Each parent will take a different approach when it comes to providing for their special needs child in an estate plan. Some, for example, will opt to leave their entire inheritance to the child’s siblings, with the understanding that they will take responsibility for caring for their disabled brother or sister. However, this approach can be risky – for example, if the sibling has issues with creditors, or winds up in a bankruptcy or divorce proceeding, the inheritance you thought you were setting aside for your disabled child is suddenly being split up between multiple parties.

Another approach would be to leave an inheritance to your special needs child, though this will almost certainly have an impact on whether they are able to obtain public benefits. Your child may be ineligible for Medicaid or other government assistance if they inherit your estate, which could affect whether they are able to obtain assisted living, vocational training, or other personal benefits, like home health aides.

The option most often recommended by a Branson estate planning lawyer at our firm is creating a Special Needs trust. This would allow your child to continue to qualify for government assistance and keeps the assets held in the trust out of reach from the child. Instead, the assets are administered strictly and limit the amount of money your child can access, ensuring that frivolous spending does not derail their ultimate needs. This trust appoints a trustee to manage and administer the funds within the trust to the child.

Contact a Branson Estate Planning Lawyer to Learn More

It’s truly never too early to begin crafting your estate plan, particularly when you are dealing with a child who needs constant care. If you’re interested in learning more, contact a Branson estate planning lawyer at our firm today.