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Estate planning steps for parents of special needs children

If you are the parent of a special needs child, you face unique estate planning considerations. While estate planning is important for everyone, you face additional responsibilities, because it is up to you to create a plan that outlines who is to care for your disabled child and how if you are unable to do so.

The issues involved in creating an estate plan that includes a special needs child often differ from those traditionally faced by parents making end-of-life plans. As a parent of a disabled child, it could be important that you consider the following:

Creating a special needs trust

Creating a special needs trust might help protect your disabled child against losing public benefits should he or she inherit money or assets from you after your passing. Chances are, your disabled child is going to need assistance and financial resources after your passing, whether for treatment, residential care or what have you. If you leave money to your child in a will rather than a trust, the money you leave might potentially disqualify him or her from receiving public assistance. Depending of the circumstances, a special needs trust might be able to make it so you can leave assets behind to your child without having to worry about it affecting his or her ability to retain benefits.

Appointing a guardian

Another thing that could be an important aspect of creating an estate plan for your special needs child is appointing someone as a guardian over your child in your will. Maybe you have already discussed this with, say, a sister or a brother, but even if so, it can be important that you provide comprehensive information about what the role of guardian entails. You may also find it beneficial to include additional information, possibly in letter form, detailing your child's preferences, habits and desires, as well any additional information you want to be sure a guardian knows in your absence.

While these are two estate planning issues that can be important ones for parents of special needs children, this is not an exhaustive list of all efforts you may want to consider.

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