As the parent of a special-needs child, you naturally want to know they will be cared for even after you are gone. There are a few facts you need to be aware of, though, during estate planning with an attorney when your child has special needs.

How you set you set up your estate plan depends on your assets, goals, and other factors unique to you and your situation. Here are some things to consider.

 Protecting public benefits 

Your goal is to provide for your special needs minor or adult child in such a way that does not risk their enrollment in benefit programs such as Medicaid or social security income (SSI) benefits. Simply put, a simple will with an inheritance could be enough to disqualify your child from their public benefits.

One options for accomplishing your goals may be to use a special needs trust. But how will this kind of trust benefit your child?

A special needs trust will:

  • Protect your child’s public benefits eligibility (SSI and Medicaid)
  • Provide the benefit of lifetime financial management for your child
  • Allow for extra funds to become available to your child if their public funding should ever become restricted or stops altogether.

But how does a special needs trust work, exactly? 

A special needs trust allows parents to:

  • Leave any inheritance for the special-needs child or adult through a strictly controlled trust
  • Protect their child’s enrollment in public assistance eligibility programs like SSI or Medicaid
  • Provide their child with the opportunity to apply for future public assistance eligibility programs

A special needs trust must be properly drafted and administered. This type of estate planning keeps any assets you want to leave for your child without making those assets directly available to them.

Because every case is different, it’s important to talk with a qualified estate planning attorney about your specific situation so that your child will be provided for after you are gone.