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Estate Planning When the Family Includes a Disabled Child

MP900302913Parents with disabled children face a different set of challenges with their estate planning. It can seem overwhelming, but there are steps to take to plan for their child’s future, when the parents aren’t there to help.

The future can seem daunting when parents consider what will happen to a disabled child, when the parents become elderly and eventually pass away. There are steps that need to be taken, as reported by Yahoo News’ recent article, “4 Tips for Estate Planning When Your Child Has a Disability” to prepare.

1. Draft a letter of intent. This is a letter of instruction that includes instructions that your family and friends will need, if you die or for any reason become incapacitated. This letter should list the passwords to your online financial accounts and personal information someone would need to efficiently step into your life, your home and care for child with a disability. It can include medications, daily routine, strategies you use for calming, therapists’ contact info and other daily living items someone not living in your home may not know about your life.

2. See an estate planning lawyer. Ask an attorney to help you build a vision for what you want your child’s future to look like. Have the attorney create a will and a special needs trust. A special needs trust lets you to distribute funds and property in a way that doesn’t interfere with government program benefits.

3. Create a power of attorney or guardianship. A power of attorney for financial and medical issues may be a viable solution. Supported decision-making is an alternative that empowers those with intellectual disabilities to make choices with support and while preserving their rights. If guardianship is your objective, talk to an attorney before your child reaches age 17.

4. Create an ABLE account. This account can hold funds to ensure your child’s regular account never has more than $2000, which would jeopardize government program benefits, like Medicaid.

An experienced elder law estate planning attorney will have gone through this process before with other families and can help put all of these pieces into place. Take one step at a time, and keep going—this can be overwhelming, but the end result will be well worth it. You will feel better knowing that you did what was necessary to protect your child, and in the end, isn’t that what matters most?

Reference: Yahoo News (August 26, 2019) “4 Tips for Estate Planning When Your Child Has a Disability”