Estate planning often feels like something that your family won’t really need for years. Even if you have children and substantial personal assets, you may not want to think about your own death while you’re young and healthy.
However, when you have children who have special needs, ranging from acquired brain injuries due to a teenage car crash to congenital conditions like autism, as a parent, you will need to do a lot more planning for your child’s stability and protection as they grow up.
A special needs trust can be a valuable tool in your estate plan, and it can also help protect your child even while you are still alive.
A properly funded special needs trust can give your child adult independence
If you question whether your child will ever be able to live independently or if you expect that they will need financial resources and oversight well into adulthood, a special needs trust can give you peace of mind and them protection without making them feel dependent. They can potentially even move out on their own because they will have a trustee to help manage their resources.
A properly-funded special needs trust could potentially contribute hundreds of dollars a month to your child’s living expenses or educational costs, allowing them to pursue their own sense of happiness, purpose and independence while still having a safety net provided by their parents and managed by someone you trust.
A special needs trust protects your child from the downfalls of an inheritance
Anyone can fall victim to mistakes and predatory behavior on the part of others after a large inheritance, but adults with special needs may be particularly vulnerable. A trust protects the assets you leave for your child so that other people won’t be able to access or use them.
At the same time, you can structure the trust carefully to ensure that the benefits your child receives won’t prevent them from getting state aid that they may depend on later in life, like Medicaid or other benefits.
Discussing the resources you have available, your child’s condition and your hopes for the future with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you devise the best way to structure and fund a special needs trust.