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2 Ideas for Estate Planning for the Special Needs Child

Posted on Fri Mar 1, 2019, on Special Needs Estate Planning

From Our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: “Hi, can you give me examples of Estate Planning for the Special Needs Child?”

Estate Planning for the Special Needs Child

Peter Klenk, Special Needs Trust Lawyer.

3 Ideas For Estate Planning for the Special Needs Child.

Having a Special Needs Child brings challenges and obligations not faced by other parents.  When a Special Needs Child reaches 18, he or she is legally considered an adult, but may not be ready to face the world unassisted.  As the parent, you can help prepare your child. Here are some ideas and examples that hopefully will help illustrate some available options. This article assumes you know a bit about estate planning for Special Needs Children, so please follow the link if you would like a refresher.  Special Needs Trust Philadelphia. Go ahead and read a bit, this page will be ready and waiting once you have the basics firmly in place.  

When Your Child Reaches Age 18, Get A Medical Power of Attorney.

  • If your child is capable of doing so, ask them to provide you a Medical Power of Attorney/Living Will. At age 18, legally, your child is an adult. HIPPA rules prevent easy access to your child’s data.  Someone needs to speak for your child if the child becomes sick and unable to speak for him or herself. Without a Health Care Power of Attorney giving explicit authorization, you may find it difficult to provide help.  Your child doesn’t have to provide you with power, but your child should select someone. The Living Will can be scanned in, stored on your computer, and be emailed to a doctor or hospital when needed.
    • Example. Mr. Burlington’s son, Pemberton, suffers from physical disabilities that prevent him from working. But, Pemberton is a legally competent person.  Pemberton’s mother lives close by but has minimal contact with Pemberton. The two divorced parents do not get along. At age 18, Pemberton worked with an Estate Planning Lawyer and decided to give his father a Medical Power of Attorney. Pemberton later suffered a medical emergency. Taken to the hospital, Pemberton was unresponsive. The treating doctor wanted to start treatment, but he needed permission. Mr. Burlington provided the doctor with a copy of the Medical Power of Attorney.  The doctor then received approval from Mr. Burlington and then began treatment.
      • Without the Medical Power of Attorney, the hospital would have likely contacted both parents. Because they do not get along, a conflict may have been created delaying Pemberton’s treatment.
      • Follow this link for more information about Medical Power of Attorney Lawyer.

Special Needs Trusts.

Giving money outright to your Special Needs Child or for them in many trusts may disqualify them from Needs-Based Government Benefits. In the past, this left many children without the benefit of inheritance. Further, other parents unintentionally had wills that disqualified their children from benefits. This meant when the parent died, the child lost benefits and the child was left to later reapply without the help and guidance of a caring parent. Recognizing this problem, Congress drafted a law allowing parents to form Special Needs Trusts. These trusts allow money held for a Special Needs Child’s benefit without disqualifying them from Needs-Based Government benefits. 

  • Mrs. Doylestown had her estate planning lawyer add a Special Needs Trust to her will. At her death, her estate poured into the trust for her Special Needs Child, Bristol. Bristol suffers from a mental health disease and has been on needs-based government benefits since she turned 18. The trustee is free to use the inheritance to improve Bristol’s life, but she maintains all of her benefits. 
  • For more information about Special Needs Trusts, follow this link.  Special Needs Trust Attorney.

In Conclusion: Estate Planning for the Special Needs Child.

Having a Special Needs Child brings special challenges. Luckily, the rules and laws have trended toward providing help. I hope this article, providing examples of Estate Planning for the Special Needs Child proved helpful. We are always happy to brainstorm with you about your own, unique situation. 

Let our Estate Planning Lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. To begin with, call to speak to one of our Estate Planning Attorneys.  By all means, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Ultimately our goal is to make the process as painless as possible!

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