If you are a parent of a child with special needs, you face a whole range of challenges that you probably didn’t expect. One of the unique issues our Tampa Bay Special Needs Lawyers realize that you face is planning for your child’s future as an adult… and perhaps a future that doesn’t include you.
Unlike other parents, you need to get a solid plan in place for the time when your child legally becomes an adult. In a lot of cases, special needs adults are never financially independent and will need individualized personal and medical care for the rest of their lives. One way to secure their financial affairs and ensure that their quality of life will not be interrupted is to create an estate plan for yourself and perhaps a special needs trust for your child.
It is critical to plan for your special child’s future with an attorney who has experience in this area. Knowing the federal and state laws that are specific to special needs adults is critical in making good, informed decisions. To prepare for this meeting, there are a few things you should think about in advance.
1) Do you need to preserve your child’s government benefits?
Most individuals with special needs rely on some type of government benefits including Medicaid and Social Security. But, to qualify for these benefits, your child must have limited income and resources. Leaving your child with an outright inheritance can put them at risk of losing these critical services when you pass away. However, if you utilize a properly designed Special Needs Trust, an inheritance will not disqualify them from receiving these benefits because technically the inheritance stays in the name of the trust, and not the child’s personal name. The funds that are put in the trust on behalf of your child can then be used to supplement the government benefits they already receive.
2) Who will be the trustee?
You will need to name someone to manage the trust for your child. This person is called trustee and is responsible for managing the trust assets and ensuring the resources are being used for their intended purpose. Many parents choose family members to serve as trustee if they are unable to, but it is possible to name corporate fiduciaries to serve as trustee. But, the corporate trustee will charge fees for this service. With either option, we encourage our clients to carefully consider who they name as trustee because they will have total financial authority for your child.
3) Do you need to select a guardian?
A guardian is the person you designate to take care of your child after you pass away or after your child becomes a legal adult. The person you select should have the time and desire to take care of your child and should be ready to provide this care for the rest of your child’s life. We encourage our client to select someone who is responsible, loving, caring and compassionate. The special needs trust can provide the finances needed to care for your child so focus on the caregiving style of this person rather than their financial status.
For many parents of children with special needs, a Special Needs Trust can provide peace of mind knowing their child has a secure future which allows them to focus on the present and enjoy life with their special child. Here at the Law Office of Laurie Ohall, we are here to answer any questions you may have. Call us today at 813-438-8503 to set up a consultation.