Estate planning is important for anyone with dependent family members, but some people rely on their families more than others. Individuals born with special needs and those who acquire disabling medical conditions due to injury or illness require more support than most.
Family members providing care for those with special needs often need to plan for the future more carefully than those in more typical family circumstances. An estate plan is crucial to ensure the safety and comfort of someone who requires more support because of their special needs. The following three unique considerations should factor into estate planning when someone wants to provide support for a family member with special needs.
Providing future financial support
Most children and other close family members could simply receive an inheritance when someone dies. The testator can set aside specific assets for certain family members to enrich their lives in the future. Unfortunately, a lump-sum inheritance can cause a variety of challenges for someone with special needs. They may not have the ability to manage appropriately. They could be vulnerable to financial abuse, and their inheritance could make them ineligible for state benefits. Many people decide to create special needs trusts as a way to improve someone’s overall quality of life without cutting them off from other key forms of support.
Preserving financial resources
The assets in a special needs trust may be the only support other than state benefits that an individual has after their family members die. Therefore, ensuring that there is a responsible individual to serve as trustee is also very important. Someone’s chosen trustee can help preserve trust resources and possibly increase their value through good investment practices. They can help ensure that trust assets improve someone’s life rather than complicate it.
Choosing a guardian
In some cases, adults with special needs rely on other people for daily necessities. They might live with their parents indefinitely and may need someone else to fill a parental role when their parents die. Choosing the right guardian can have a major impact on someone’s overall quality of life. Parents and others tasked with caring for someone with special needs often need to think carefully about who could provide a similar level of support and comfort.
The sooner someone puts together a comprehensive estate plan, the more comfortable they may feel about the likely future security of their vulnerable loved one. Addressing the unique needs of a family member with a disabling medical condition may protect them in the future and give those who love them peace of mind.