Estate Planning for Parents of Children with Special Needs

As parents, we all want to ensure that our children will be provided for after we’re gone. If you are the parent of a child with special needs, it may be necessary to put additional measures in place with special needs estate planning. Depending on your child’s disability, you may not be able to leave money to them directly in their own name. If you do, you could be jeopardizing their chances of receiving assistance from means-based government programs like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

When planning for loved ones with special needs, the primary consideration is preserving their quality of life. A compassionate special needs estate planning attorney can help provide peace of mind as you plan for your child’s future. At The Meier Law Firm, we understand the deep, sacrificial love you have for your child. We appreciate that you go back and forth between endless appointments, evaluations, and therapy. You may be battling insurance companies, the school system, and other obstacles just to get your child the support they need.

After a session with our experienced estate planning attorney, you can rest assured that your child will be well taken care of. Through our comprehensive special needs estate planning services, you can appoint the best guardians and provide for your child’s emotional needs. You can also feel confident that the money you leave behind won’t disqualify them from receiving government benefits.

Supplemental Security Income Resource Limit

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a government initiative that provides cash payments to disabled people. As a needs-based program, qualifying recipients must not exceed a certain resource limit. Resources include cash, bank accounts, stocks, life insurance, and vehicles. The value of your child’s resources determines whether or not they’re deemed eligible for SSI benefits. The limit currently stands at $2000 for individuals and $3000 for a couple.

Without proper planning, a well-intentioned parent can easily jeopardize their child’s ability to access benefits they may be entitled to. This happens when you leave an inheritance that puts your child over the SSI resource limit. To avoid this, it’s important to work with an experienced special needs estate planning attorney.

At The Meier Law Firm, we have helped many families set up comprehensive estate plans that protect their child with a disability. By utilizing options like the special needs trust, you can protect your assets, leave a legacy and provide for all aspects of your child’s care.

Your Child’s Physical Care

In addition to naming temporary and permanent guardians, we can include comprehensive guidelines for how to physically care for your child. This way, their services, and care will not be disrupted or neglected should something happen to you. At our firm, we send these instructions out in advance to temporary or permanent guardians so they would know what to do if your child were suddenly placed in their care.

Your Child’s Financial Care

Your child may be entitled to valuable government benefits now or in the future because of their disability. Unfortunately, most of these benefits are available only to those with very limited means. This leaves you in a difficult position: leaving your child an inheritance could disqualify them from receiving important government benefits they would have otherwise been entitled to. By establishing a special needs trust, you’re able to leave your child an inheritance in a way that does not disqualify them from receiving government benefits. Because special needs trusts are established to supplement Supplemental Security Income, government benefits can cover your child’s basic needs while the special needs trust pays for their additional needs.

It can also be set up so that, should your child no longer require a special needs trust, they can receive their money either through another type of trust.

Your Child’s Emotional Care

Money isn’t the only consideration when planning for children with disabilities. Preserving your child’s quality of life also requires putting measures in place for their emotional needs. It’s natural to worry about your child’s emotional wellbeing, especially if something should happen to you and you can no longer care for them.

A great way to express your love for your child and help ensure that their emotional needs will continue to be met is to create a Memorandum of Intent. This legal document allows you to outline your child’s emotional needs and provide your insight to guide future caretakers on how to meet these needs. This document can include your child’s interests, activities, preferences, and even their favorite foods. You can identify your preferred doctors, resources, and services to facilitate a more seamless transition for your child and their new guardian or caretaker.

Work with an Experienced Special Needs Estate Planning Attorney

If you are the parent of a child with a disability, it’s important to work with an experienced and compassionate special needs estate planning attorney. Schedule a planning session to begin putting measures in place for your child’s best life.