Estate planning for special needs children doesn’t need to be complicated, but it is daunting to think about. Parents of children with special needs know all too well how much care and planning goes into making sure their children are taken care of and receive the education and services they need. Planning for their future is the best thing you can do to ensure your child’s care in case of an emergency or after you’re gone. Here are some steps to take when estate planning for special needs children.

1. Organize your child’s medical files and information.

Along with keeping your own wealth inventory and account information organized, keep a secure but accessible file of your child’s medical information. This will help if/when their next caretaker needs to take over. Keep doctor information, medication lists, daily routine list, and any public service information all updated and accessible. 

2. Decide and document how you want your child’s care handled.

It’s not easy to imagine your child’s care in someone else’s hands. But having a plan in place will help keep their life as stable as possible, especially during a time of grief. Remember that planning ahead will ensure your child is cared for in the best way if and when you aren’t able to care for them yourself. Will you choose another family member? A professional caregiver or conservator? It’s a tough decision but one that needs to be made. 

3. Determine a plan for financial care for your child.

Financial care for your child is usually the next priority after determining how they will be cared for. Meeting with an estate planning professional is best to discuss options specific to your situation and your state’s laws. Your situation may warrant setting up a Special Needs Trust, which helps to protect an inheritance for a special needs child but still makes them able to receive any public benefits that they are eligible for. This is important if you know your child will depend on those benefits to pay for their care or other needs, as in certain instances they may become ineligible if they are receiving a large inheritance. Other family members may contribute to a special needs trust as well, making it a nice option to provide security for your child’s future. 

4. Plan for your own medical decisions.

Again, it’s never easy to think about the end of your life or a time when you are unable to care for your loved ones. But having a plan for your own medical care in case of an emergency can give you and your family peace of mind knowing that any tough decisions are already made. Making these decisions early is especially important if you have children with special needs. Choosing someone to advocate for you and discussing your wishes with them, will take the load off of your child or children, especially if they are unable to make those decisions. Planning for end of life care, pain management, and even planning for after death arrangements like your funeral, can be a huge relief to your loved ones. 

Your estate plan should be tailored to your life. With so much to think about and plan for, make sure you are consulting with the right estate planning professionals. We can help you start a new estate plan or update an existing one. You can contact us for your free initial consultation and see if we are the right fit for your estate planning goals. 

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Disclaimer: This article is intended to serve as a general summary of the issues outlined therein. While this article may include general guidance, it is not intended as, nor is a substitute for, qualified legal advice. Your review or receipt of this article by Lexern Law Offices, Ltd. (the “LLG”) or any of its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the LLG. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors of the article and does not reflect the opinion of the LLG.