If your child has an autism spectrum disorder, epilepsy, or any other disorder, you’ve spent the last few years making sure your child’s needs are met. Teachers have been met with and doctor’s appointments have been attended. Think of an acronym and you’ve had it: PT, OT, ST, the list goes on. I’m sure it feels as though you don’t have a second to spare and could not possibly add one more item to you “to do” list. I hate to be there bearer of bad news but there is one thing you must add. Today I’m urging you to spend five minutes thinking about future planning for your special needs child. After you’ve put the kids to bed, set aside the laundry and forget the clean up of today’s adventures. Spend five minutes thinking about your child’s future finances.
What will happen to your child if you are gone? Does your child receive state assistance for their disorder? Who will manage their special needs? Many families with special needs are so financially strapped the idea of having an estate plan may seem laughable, but if you have a child with special needs it’s actually very important to have an estate plan, no matter the size of the estate.
Creating an estate plan centered on a “Special Needs Trust” (SNT) will provide you with peace of mind. An SNT will provide funds to pay for the child’s expenses while still keeping the child eligible for government benefits. In order for your child to receive most government assistance their assets may not exceed $2,000. While that may seem an easy requirement to meet now, what about when your child is thirty or if they were to inherit from a grandparent or parent? An SNT will protect whatever assets are left to your children while continuing their access to SSI or Medicaid.