Caring for a special needs child through estate planning

Sussex County parents who have children with special needs are often dedicated to ensuring that the children receive the care they need under any circumstances. Knowing that they will not live forever, these parents use estate planning to help ensure that the care their children receive will continue even after they pass away. However, it can be tricky to care for a special needs child through estate planning because a balance needs to be found among protecting them from those who would take advantage of them, providing for their financial needs and not precluding them from receiving valuable government benefits.

A special needs trust is often considered to be the best way to provide for such a child. However, creating such a trust in a will could make the child vulnerable, since the details of that document often are available in public records after its creator’s death. Creating a trust outside of the will can help ensure that its details are kept private, which adds another layer of protection.

The assets that are put into a trust need to provide enough liquidity to ensure that a child’s expenses can be met when needed. Specific limitations may also need to be placed on how much money can be taken from the trust at any given time and when distributions should be made. In order to remain eligible for government benefits, a child should never have too many assets in his or her name. The trustee needs to understand this particularly, and he or she should also be able to keep up with the changes that occur both to the laws regarding the trust and in the qualification process for benefits.

After Sussex County parents devote their lives to their special needs children, they should have the peace of mind that same level of care will continue after their deaths. Estate planning can help ensure that this happens. However, the required documents must meet certain requirements in order to be effective. Therefore, it would be a good idea to consult with an attorney before moving forward.

Source:, “6 Planning Mistakes You Can Avoid If You Have a Special Needs Child“, Brad Wiewel, July 7, 2016



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