Protecting a Child With Special Needs

The thought that your child may have to survive on his or her own before they are ready is every parent’s worst fear; it’s what keeps many parents up at night, and what brings many parents into our offices asking about trusts, guardians, and estate plans. For parents of children with special needs that fear of leaving their child unprepared is magnified, because parents of children with special needs don’t know if their child will ever be able to fully support themselves—even when they are well into adulthood.

One way to help ensure that your special needs child will be taken care of—even when you can’t be there anymore—is to create a special needs trust. In fact, a special needs trust is almost essential for any child (or adult) who will rely on government assistance for much of his or her life. As this article in the Wall Street Journal points out, the sooner you get a financial plan (and a special needs trust) in place, the better for your child.

A special needs trust (or SNT) “typically will hold funds to be used solely for the child, usually to cover out-of-pocket costs related to the child’s care and living expenses, but the money won’t be in his or her name… This is important because if a child has more than $2,000 in assets, he or she typically won’t qualify for benefits such as Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid. (For this reason, many parents use a trust while they’re alive if the special-needs child inherits any assets or receives other monetary gifts.)”

In the hands of an experienced estate planning/special needs attorney the process of creating an SNT can be a great opportunity to anticipate your child’s lifetime needs, review your current (and potential future) assets, and plan not only for your child, but also for yourselves in the coming years. Every child and ever family will have different needs, and no two trusts will be the same. Please contact us for more information about protecting your special needs child and how we can help.

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