How Do I Plan My Estate With a Disabled Child?

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As our children with disabilities grow older, and we ourselves grow older, the future can seem daunting. The future can be overwhelming. Taking steps to plan for the future can seem way too complicated, especially when you don’t know where to start.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. See an 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.
  3. Create a power of attorney or guardianship. 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 is your objective, talk to an attorney before your child reaches age 17.
  4. Create an ABLE 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 or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

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 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”

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