Every parent’s first priority is making sure that their child is provided for; that is an important goal for young couples when creating Wills and other estate planning documents. If their child or children are young, parents want to insure that their child will be safe and cared for if that tragic “what if” scenario should ever come true. It’s easier to relax about the “what if” planning once your baby has grown up and doesn’t rely solely on you for food and shelter, love and security. But what if your baby wasn’t going to grow out of that need, and would always rely solely on you for those most basic of support needs?
This is something that parents of severely autistic children do need to worry about and plan for. What do you do when your child needs you as much at 50 as she did at 5?
The article “ADVICE: Planning for an Autistic Child’s Adult Years” focuses on that very question, and provides help and answers to parents who are trying to make a smooth transition from caring for an autistic child to caring for an autistic adult. This author makes a number of excellent financial recommendations, including signing up for government benefits, looking into long term care insurance, and creating a Special Needs Trust.
“If you have significant assets, consult a financial planner or estate lawyer who can help you set up a Supplemental Needs or Special Needs Trust that will specifically address how your child can benefit from your bequeathal without compromising any governmental aid.”
This sentence is probably the best advice you can get, but the phrase “significant assets” is a little misleading. Special Needs or Supplemental Needs trusts are not just for the wealthy. If you have a house you have “significant assets”. If you have life insurance policies for yourself or your spouse you have “significant assets”. When you’re talking about government benefits, “significant assets” is any amount that will make your child ineligible for those benefits, which can be as little as $2,000! Creating a Special Needs Trust with a portion of your legacy may serve to preserve your child’s public benefits and thus enhance his or her standard of living, as your child may then be the beneficiary of BOTH public benefits AND distributions from the Special Needs Trust. Public benefits and private funding can work together for the benefit of your special needs child, provided that your bequest to that child is properly structured.
We know you want to provide for your special needs child at any age. Call our office and let us help.