You’ve heard me repeatedly talk about how important an estate plan with a will, trust and living wills, etc., is to your family should the unthinkable happen. During this season of giving, make yourself a promise to either create or update your plan to be sure that your children, especially any with special needs, are cared for completely.
While many parents become experts at how their health insurance, government benefits and SSI work, they have no knowledge of medical directives and/or living wills and what those plans will do for the care of their special needs kids. Here are some basic guidelines to discuss with your Estate Planner:
1. Have your own plan in place in addition to the one you have for your children. If you pass away without a clear plan, state laws may leave a sizeable portion of your estate to your children, which could in turn effect the benefits that they are receiving and relying upon to live. Instead, create a special needs trust that is funded by your will that takes care of finances and guardianship at minimum.
2. Work directly with an estate planner after knowing the full scope (as much as possible) about the child’s condition in case special instructions or care are called for and need to be provided.
3. Be sure to name plan beneficiaries accordingly, especially if your child develops special needs later in life. You may remember that any designated beneficiaries of any banking or investment plan outrank any choices outlined in a will or other documents (see the full blog explanation by clicking HERE). Be sure all of your choices match up so there are no surprises. And, as you did in your will, place your child’s share of these important assets into a properly configured special needs trust.
4. Because any windfall can effect your child’s standing and care, be sure you discuss and explain this to family members. Any good well-meaning family/friends could include your child in their planning with disastrous consequences so be sure they understand the issues faced.
Again, I would love to be a of service to you or be able to recommend another firm to work with. Happy Holidays!