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Estate Planning Issues for Special Needs Parents

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Every parent cares most about ensuring the welfare of their children. Creating an estate plan that is specific to the finances and circumstances of each family is vital to ensuring that your children are taken care of adequately and in accordance with your wishes. Parents of children with special needs face additional hurdles when preparing their estate, and there are specific issues they should consider when planning. Below we identify some of the issues that parents of special needs children should keep in mind when designing an effective estate plan.

Providing for needs without disturbing eligibility for government programs

One of the most important things to keep in mind when estate planning around children with special needs is ensuring that you provide for the health and financial needs of the child. When you pass away, you want to ensure that you have left funds sufficient to take care of your child’s needs. However, it is important to make sure that the inheritance and other sources of funds do not adversely affect your child’s eligibility for needs-based government benefits programs such as SSI or Medicaid. Our special needs estate planners have identified several options for financing a special needs child, including special needs trusts, life insurance policies, and ABLE accounts. Your estate plan can take advantage of all of these options and more.

Supplementing needs-based eligibility programs

Government programs like Medicaid and social security income provide the bare minimum for a special needs person to get by–food, shelter, etc. It is crucial to find ways to leave your child funds to work beyond their base needs and enhance their lives. Consider creative ways to finance and account for entertainment, education, social interaction, and other aspects of life.

Treating all of your children equitably when one requires special needs

It is easy to focus entirely on a child with special needs when planning your estate. It is essential, however, to keep the entire family in mind. You do not want to create family drama or a rift between different sides because some family members feel slighted by the distribution of your estate. Ensure that your special needs child is cared for, but remember to keep things fair and just among all of your children.

Providing for management and distribution of inheritance responsibly and per your wishes

Your estate plan should leave you confident that when you pass away or become incapacitated, your children will be cared for. Do not leave anything up to chance. Set up your special needs trusts, your insurance policies, and everything else relating to the administration of your estate. Put trusted people in charge.

A special needs planning attorney can help protect your family, creating an estate and special needs plan tailored to your needs and situation. We will investigate your financial and familial circumstances in order to recommend and effectuate the optimal legal mechanisms to best ensure the welfare of your family. Contact the dedicated, efficient, and detail-oriented West Palm Beach trust and estates attorneys Shalloway & Shalloway at 561-686-6200.

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