An unknown author is credited with a quote equating parents of special needs children with a few superheroes. There’s certainly truth that many special needs parents are “Batman, Captain America, and the Incredible Hulk combined with a side of Mary Poppins.” Meanwhile, these same individuals need to know the importance of estate planning – as it applies to a child with special needs.
The obvious might come to mind. What happens to your special needs child if you die or become incapacitated? Are you worried that he or she could become a ward of the state? More than likely, you’d like to name someone of your choosing to take your place when you are no longer able to provide care.
That said, estate planning for special needs children – or adults – includes concerns that may arise while you are still alive or able to provide services and make decisions. In fact, there are special considerations when your child reaches the age of majority. A number does not necessarily dictate the ability of a disabled person to make judgments on their own.
Estate Planning and Special Needs
When you meet with an experienced estate planning attorney, your goal is likely to learn the best way to protect the interests of your special needs child. For starters, your child may be reaching adulthood. Do you need to apply for guardianship? This is a formal procedure that will ultimately allow you to continue to make decisions for your child’s health, finances and anything related to legal proceedings.
In a previous article, we discussed the concept of college students signing a power of attorney for many of the above reasons. Unfortunately, this option would not be available for the parents of special needs children – even if they are over the age of 18. A person who executes a power of attorney must be able to comprehend the consequences of the action.
Estate planning for special needs children and adults often requires an understanding of Social Security laws and Medicare/Medicaid planning. This is critical as far as payment of medical bills – and may ultimately tie into living expenses.
Special Needs Trusts
In some situations, it may seem advisable to set up a Special Needs Trust. These type of trusts offer various funding options and are directly related to the special needs individual’s access to medical coverage.
Special Needs Trusts can be confusing and are sometimes debated as an effective tool for individuals with special needs. Your attorney can tell you if this is a suitable option for your loved one’s needs.
When you care for someone with special needs, you need to proactively prepare for the future. Our office offers many suggestions when it comes to estate planning for those with special needs. Contact Fellerman & Ciarimboli to see how we can assist you.
With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.