Ask an Attorney: How can I care for a special needs child in my estate plan?

This post is contributed by Network Law Firm Lincoln & Wenk, PLLC 

If you are caring for a person with special needs or you have a child with special needs, you may have concerns over what will happen to that individual when you are no longer available to provide help and support. This is a serious issue, but you do not have to leave this matter to chance. With the right estate planning tools, you can continue to care for a specific member of your family long after you are gone. 

One of the ways that you can do this is through a special needs trust. You can set up this in addition to having a will, setting aside assets and money for the care and provision for a loved one with special needs. If you think you could benefit from this tool, you would be wise to learn how you can add it your existing estate plan as soon as possible.

Why this type of trust?

While a will can do many things, it is not the best avenue by which you can provide for a loved one who cannot care for himself or herself. In fact, it is smart to explore how a special needs trust could be the right decision for your family. Some of the benefits to this specific type of trust include the following:

  • Assets in a special needs trust have no bearing on the beneficiary’s eligibility for government benefits for housing, medical care and more.
  • This type of trust allows you to designate a trustee to act in the beneficiary’s best interests when distributing the funds.
  • This step allows you to protect an inheritance or winnings from a civil case for the benefit of your family member.

Leaving money through a will for a loved one with special needs could lead to complications, and your property may not go where you intended. It could also cause your loved one to lose his or her eligibility for certain types of benefits.

The right estate plan for you

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for estate planning, and you would be wise to draft a plan that suits your needs and unique objectives. This could include a special needs trust as well as an updated and thoughtfully drafted estate plan.

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This blog is not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice. Regulations will vary from state to state. You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal problems.