Estate Planning for Disabled Children

When parents have a son or daughter with a disability, it is especially important to develop an estate plan that provides for their child’s future best interests.

Parents with disabled children should be very alert to common pitfalls and take various benefits their child may be entitled to and how they are obtained before leaving behind piles of wealth which they barely can utilize. The considerations below can help parents approach planning their estate when thinking about a child with disabilities.

Be realistic in assessing your son or daughter’s disability and predictions for future development.

If necessary, obtain professional help and evaluation on your child’s prospects and capability to earn a living and to manage property. You have to understand your child’s capabilities and plan accordingly.

Know the basic need of your special child and arrange things accordingly.

It is important to make arrangements for your child’s living arrangements after your death. You should have answers to the questions like “Where would my child live if my spouse and I are to die tomorrow?”

If you feel that a guardian is necessary, you should select a potential guardian in your will.

Explore the earning potential of your child.

Is your child capable of earning his /her own living? It is important to determine how much your child can be expected earn to sustain his/her own life. If he or she is currently employed, does this income meet his or her living expenses? In many cases, even if your child is capable of earning, he/she will require additional financial assistance.

Don’t forget about government benefits.

Some government benefits are only awarded to people under certain asset limits. Sometimes it can be more beneficial in the long run to seek these benefits and allow assets left from parents to be used in a more supplementary fashion. Our article on special & supplemental needs trusts gives a basic overview of some options. Strategies such as this take careful planning and must be done far in advance.

It is more of a challenge for the parents of disabled children to structure their estate plan to fully benefit their child. But with professional help and a little planning, it is possible to leave the best world for those we care most about.

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Planning ahead is a gift to your loved ones!