Parents of a special needs child who live in the Dallas, Texas area need to do a little extra work when it comes to estate planning. Whether you have already created an estate plan and have recently had a child with special needs, or you are now just getting around to creating a plan, there are several situations that call for added attention.
Though your estate planning attorney will be able to guide you through the process in detail, here are several questions you need to think about before beginning your planning efforts.
Who’ll take care of your child if you die?
Every parent with young children needs to be ready to name a guardian will take over parenting duties should the parent die. But parents with special needs children need to spend a little extra time in considering their guardian selection. The guardian will need to be able to provide the kind of care and support your child needs. Depending on your circumstances, this might require full-time assistance, something a lot of people are not able to provide. It’s also important to remember that you should talk to your choice before you include him/her as your official selection. People you select as guardian are not legally obligated to serve in that role, so it’s vital you make sure that person is willing to take on the responsibility.
Will your child be able to inherit your property?
Special-needs children can often take advantage of several different government assistance programs. However, each of these programs requires the children to meet specific eligibility criteria. If you leave your child a direct inheritance, this can sometimes make that child ineligible for various programs.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t leave your child an inheritance. By creating a special needs trust you can ensure that your child will have the ability to inherit property from you and be more financially secure. A special needs trust will become the legal inheritor of the property and use it for the benefit of your child. At the same time, the property will not be counted against the child when he or she applies for government assistance.
Will your child be able to make his/her own choices?
Each special needs child has his or her own abilities and disabilities. In some situations your child might, for example, be able to some decisions but unable to make others. Regardless of the particular circumstances, you need to speak to an estate planning lawyer to help you determine what your options are. You might, for example, need to become the child’s guardian when the child becomes 18 if that child is unable to make any of his or her own decisions.