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Do you have a child with special needs?

When it comes to estate planning matters, most parents share a goal of leaving assets to their child or children. In most cases, however, an inheritance is viewed as a means to help out adult children who are likely working and living independently and may even having families of their own. For a child with special needs, however, many parents often remain caretakers long after a child reaches adulthood.

Whether a child's disability is physical or cognitive in nature, there are many reasons why he or she may require assistance and parents often worry about a child's wellbeing and care after they are gone. For parents in this situation, a special needs trust is often a good option.

Much like any other type of trust, a special needs trust is considered its own separate legal entity. This is important as individuals with special needs often rely on Social Security and other types of benefits for which there are strict income caps. When assets are left to a trust, these assets aren't considered as income and therefore don't impact an individual's eligibility for disability benefits and medical care.

In addition to establishing a special needs trust, parents are also advised to find suitable living and care arrangements for a child before their own health declines to the point where taking care of a child and making such arrangements is too difficult. This provides all involved parties time to adjust and, if necessary, make adjustments to ensure that everyone's needs are being met.

Parents who have a child with special needs and who want to take steps to provide for a child's future care, should contact an attorney. An estate planning legal professional can help parents devise an estate plan that not only provides for their child's future financial health and overall care, but also for their own.

Source:, "Create a Plan for an Adult Child With Disabilities," Susan B. Garland, December 2015

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