If you have a child with special needs, the need for a thorough estate plan is critical.
The idea can be daunting. However, consider these tips to help you organize your thoughts on the subject and take action.
Plan for your own incapacity or disability
In the event that you can no longer manage your finances and healthcare, you will need a plan. You can choose a formal route and appoint a power of attorney who will follow your plan exactly as you spell it out, or discuss plans informally with a trusted party, such as a relative. Draft a health care directive to name someone who will make decisions about your care.
Review your child’s conservatorship or guardianship
If your child is under your care through a conservatorship or guardianship, you can identify a successor in the event of your death or incapacitation. If you are not currently your child’s conservator or guardian, you can designate an individual who could become a guardian after you pass.
Create a special needs trust
If you intend to leave your assets to a child with special needs, you can create a special needs trust to protect their right to government benefits programs, such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. Under a special needs trust, your child will not own the assets in the trust, rendering their eligibility for benefits unaffected.
Estate planning for children with special needs is a process more than a one-time task. You may need to make adjustments as circumstances change. Evaluate the plan routinely to ensure all documents are up to date.