Jun 29, 2018 - Estate Planning by Hoffman & Hoffman
If you have a child who is differently-abled, you will likely want to make a plan to ensure the child’s continued care and support even after you become incapacitated or pass on. Many people with serious disabilities are unable to manage money and property effectively and are not able to live independently. They may also be reliant upon government benefits to provide important coverage for healthcare needs and to provide supplementary income.
Parents need to address these unique issues affecting children with special needs when parents make their estate plan. It is best to talk with a Miami estate planning attorney as soon as possible if your child has a disability and you want to put an estate plan in place to provide for and protect the child when you are no longer able to be there.
Parents of Disabled Children Should Address Key Estate Planning Issues
One of the first considerations for many parents of children with disabilities is where children will live and who will care for them if and when parents become unable to. Younger relatives, including siblings, could be entrusted with care or parents might explore institutional living environments to find the best place for a disabled child to live after the parents pass on.
Many institutional living facilities are costly, so parents who find an expensive facility for their disabled child may need to take steps to ensure an inheritance is large enough to pay for the disabled child to live in an appropriate care facility. This could mean purchasing sufficient life insurance.
Even if a child is going to live in an institution, parents should also consider naming a trusted person to serve as guardian to oversee the child’s care and make important decision on the child’s behalf. While a guardian can be appointed for those who need one, it’s usually best for a family member or other trusted person to be a guardian rather than a professional guardian the court appoints who isn’t truly invested in the disabled child’s welfare.
There is also another big concern for parents of disabled children: how an inheritance of money and property will be managed and will affect means-tested benefits. If a disabled child isn’t able to take care of property or decide how to manage money, leaving assets directly to the child could pose problems. Further, disabled people who rely on means-tested Medicaid for healthcare and who receive income from Supplemental Security Income could end up losing access to benefits if they suddenly become the owner of substantial assets due to a gift or transfer from a parent.
A special needs trust could solve the problems associated with providing for a differently-abled child. A special needs trust gives parents the ability to put assets into trust to be managed by a person the parents designate and to be used to enhance quality of life for the child with the disability without directly transferring ownership to the child and causing benefits to be lost.
A Miami estate planning attorney can provide help to parents in creating a special needs trust or otherwise implementing a plan to provide for a disabled child.