How should I plan my estate if I have a disabled child (or disabled adult child)?

If you have a disabled child (or disabled adult child), you will want to seek the help of an attorney familiar with special needs trusts. This legal document is very important because this type of trust financially aids your disabled child if you are deceased.

There are a couple of different options to consider when estate planning: the severity of the disability, and the government benefits that could be lost if the estate plan is not created with the proper elements.

Since disabilities can range from minor to major, knowing the severity of the disability and future prognosis is important and should be discussed with your attorney. Also, depending on the circumstances, your disabled child could lose government benefits as a result of your estate planning, or lack thereof. Any windfall of money from your estate may cancel the benefits, requiring the disabled child to pay for the benefits they had previously received out of their inheritance from your estate. Once the disabled child’s inheritance is diminished, they will have to reapply for government benefits.

As a parent concerned about a disabled child, using the appropriate estate planning tools is especially important for you. Regardless of the attorney fees associated with planning your estate, it is necessary that you plan accordingly. Your disabled child will potentially encounter losing government benefits, the appropriate care, and the ability to re-apply for government benefits. Further, depending on the severity of the disabled child, you could create a situation where a guardianship must be formed to make decisions for the best interest of your child.

A special needs trust is not appropriate for every situation and seeking the advice of an experienced attorney to guide you through this process is very important. Estate planning when you have a disabled child raises questions in the family that must be answered and addressed through the appropriate legal documents.