If you are the parent of a child with special needs, planning for his or her future without parents is a more critical matter than the issue would be for a parent of a child who is not disabled. The concerns are twofold: who will your care for child if you become incapacitated and what happens to the child at your death? Some of the questions you need to consider when you begin the planning process are:
- Whom would you trust as guardian for your child if you were unable to care for them while the child is still a minor?
- Will the child still need a guardian when they reach their majority because of the nature of their physical and mental disabilities?
- If your child is capable of taking care of handling personal needs and living in a situation like a group home, do you still need to appoint a guardian of any property they would inherit at your death?
- Will leaving property to a special needs child affect his or her ability to receive benefits such as Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicare, and Medicaid?
- Are the child’s medical and physical needs such that it is more important for him or her to receive Medicare/Medicaid benefits than bequests from your estate?
- Should you consider putting your property in trust for the special needs child?
- How will providing for the special needs child affect planning for any other children you may have?
You should consider Special Needs planning no matter what your economic level may be. SSI and Medicaid are needs based programs. Leaving your child life insurance proceeds and a home could affect the child’s benefits if care is not taken in how such a legacy is left to the child. Proper planning now can prevent loss of benefits in the future.
Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.