A Guide to Ensuring That Your Special Needs Child Is Properly Cared for When You’re Unable to Do So
As a parent, it’s only natural to want what’s best for your child. And if your child has special needs, more often than not, it’s you who can provide that very best. For this reason, what will happen to your special needs child if you die or are incapacitated is likely your prevailing worry. The answer lies in estate planning — a more specialized and careful one at that.
Set up a special needs trust
In addition to preparing end-of-life documents, you need to create a special needs trust. This is a legal arrangement in which the mentally or physically disabled are able to receive income without affecting their eligibility for disability benefits from the SSA, Medicaid, etc.
Now, you don’t need to wait until your child is of legal age to set up such a trust; in fact, the sooner, the better. This is because the existence of this trust will provide the stability and security that a special needs person will require if something untoward should happen to you, ensuring that your child will be adequately protected and taken care of for life.
Set up your child’s guardianship
Even with a special needs trust to take care of the financial aspects of your child’s care, there is the question of who should administer it. As much as you’d want to be around forever to take care of your child, there’s really no telling what will happen, making it very important to look into guardianship for your child while you’re still able; otherwise, the court will have to appoint one, which may be less than ideal.
You do have the option to nominate a guardian and even a successor guardian, should the former prove to be unwilling or unable. Essentially, this guardian will step into your shoes, so choose someone you and your child trust. Of course, it’s more than wise to also talk this through with your proposed guardian, as this is a responsibility that you want to be taken seriously. Better yet, consider working with a special needs attorney to ensure that this is done correctly.
Plan for your death
Finally, know that insurance will figure greatly in your preparations for your child’s future. Purchasing a life insurance policy can ensure your special needs child is financially secure if anything unexpected ever happens to you.
As you plan for the unexpected, make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of your assets. This includes investments, your home, and your business if you’re a business owner. To figure out how much your home is worth, have a conversation with a local realtor who understands the value of properties in your area. To determine your business’s value, you can use an online business valuation calculator to get an estimate.
Indeed, it’s oft-said that parents never stop worrying about their kids, and this is truest for parents of children with special needs. Sadly, you’re not going to be around forever to give them the love and care that they’ll need for life. So plan what you can while you’re still able as this is the best way you can continue to provide care from beyond the grave.
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