How Do I Plan with a Special Needs Child?
The three main structures a family should put in place to provide future protection for their child relate to money management, self-care and housing, says CNBC’s recent article entitled “If you have a child with special needs, here’s how to plan for their life after you pass.”
Money Management: If the child gets government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid, parents will usually establish a special needs trust to shield assets to allow the child continued access to those benefits. A trustee oversees the funds and other trust provisions not under the child’s control. If a special needs trust is established, the trust won’t result in the child losing benefits.
Life Insurance. This is the cheapest way to fund a trust. That’s because you need to know what’s left over from your estate to care for the child, and this creates that certain bucket of money.
Self-Care: Parents must arrange the services their child will need to live independently or semi-independently, which may be overseen by a court-appointed curator (called a conservator or guardian in states other than Louisiana). This person makes all decisions regarding an individual’s financial and/or personal affairs. In the alterative, decisions may be made by a person with power of attorney, as well as the individual.
Parents may want to write a “letter of intent,” which is a guide for those who will care for the child in the future. This letter can cover family history, medical care, benefits, daily routines, diet, behavior management, residential arrangements, education, social life, career, religion and end-of-life decisions, according to the Autism Society.
Housing: With respect to future housing for the child, location is more important than the house itself. Parents should consider options beyond keeping their loved one in the family home. It’s more important to look at the individual and the interests and supports they might require. Parents may think of retiring to a community that supports the interests of the child. There is a trend toward more community-based living. State-administered Medicaid HCBS waiver programs allow people with disabilities to live in a house or apartment. The state, in turn, provides staffing for a group of similar residents. Sometimes, a group of families will purchase a collection of houses or condominiums. And people are rehabbing houses for roommate living, resulting in neighborhoods of people with special needs.
It’s critical to work with specialists in this type of planning, such as an experienced estate planning or elder law attorney.
BOOK A CALL with me, Ted Vicknair, Board Certified Estate Planning and Administration Specialist, Board Certified Tax Law Specialist, and CPA to learn more about estate planning, incapacity planning, and asset protection.
If you liked this article, “How Do I Plan with a Special Needs Child?” read these additional articles: How Can I Clean Up My Estate Plan? and What OTC Drug Makes High Blood Pressure Worse? and Any Ideas How to Pay for Long-Term Care? and How Do I Give My Children the Summer Home?
Reference: CNBC (Dec. 6, 2021) “If you have a child with special needs, here’s how to plan for their life after you pass”