Yahoo News’ recent article, “4 Tips for Estate Planning When Your Child Has a Disability” gives us four simple steps to take, if you have children with disabilities.
- Draft a letter of intent. This is a letter of instruction that includes instructions that your family and friends will need, if you die or for any reason become incapacitated. This letter should list the passwords to your online financial accounts and personal information someone would need to efficiently step into your life, your home and care for child with a disability. It can include medications, daily routine, strategies you use for calming, therapists’ contact info and other daily living items someone not living in your home may not know about your life.
- See an experienced estate planning lawyer. Ask an attorney to help you build a vision for what you want your child’s future to look like. Have the attorney create a will and a special needs trust. A special needs trust lets you to distribute funds and property in a way that doesn’t interfere with government program benefits.
- Create a power of attorney or guardianship or conservatorship. A power of attorney for financial and medical issues may be a viable solution. Supported decision-making is an alternative that empowers those with intellectual disabilities to make choices with support and while preserving their rights. If guardianship/conservatorship is your objective, talk to an experienced estate planning attorney before your child reaches age 17. At age 18, the child is no longer considered a juvenile and it is much more difficult to obtain these.
- Create a new account. This account can hold funds to ensure your child’s regular account never has more than $2000, which would jeopardize government program benefits, like Medicaid.
This may seem like a gigantic task, so take it one step at a time. Do one thing at a time. Begin the process with the letter of intent and think about the vision you have for your child. Then speak with an experienced estate planning attorney who is experienced in helping special needs families.
Reference: Yahoo News (August 26, 2019) “4 Tips for Estate Planning When Your Child Has a Disability”