It's important for all families to have an estate plan, but it's especially important for families of children with special needs. Depending on the nature of your child's needs, he or she may need lifelong financial support and assistance which can be extremely expensive. Estate planning can give you the peace of mind that your child's needs are provided for.
Steve Turkett is the parent of children with special needs, and understands the perils of failing to plan for the particular needs of children and adults who have disabilities. He can help you to secure your child's well-being both now and in the future.
A will is an essential part of any estate plan. For parents of children with special needs, it is even more crucial to have a will, because a will is the primary way for you to legally specify who will be your child's guardian in the event of your death. In the absence of a will or a legally binding declaration of guardian, the court will determine your child's guardian. Most likely this person will be a relative, but it may not be the person with whom your child is most comfortable, or who is best equipped to handle your child's needs. In order to be sure that your child is cared for by the person you think best, you must appoint a guardian through a will.
Of course, a will is also a useful tool for directing how your assets and property should be distributed. If you have a child with special needs, however, it is likely unwise to leave assets to your child outright. Your child may be legally and practically unable to manage an inheritance. Furthermore, outright property ownership may make your child ineligible for certain needed government benefits. For this reason, it is essential to have a trust in addition to a will.
There are a variety of different types of trusts to serve many different purposes. Two types of trusts that are useful to parents of children with special needs are revocable living trusts and special needs trusts.
A revocable living trust pays income to the you, the grantor (person who created the trust) during your lifetime. You can also change provisions of the trust, or cancel it altogether, at any time before your death. Upon your death, the assets of the trust are managed by a trustee you've chosen for the benefit of those people you've designated.
A special needs trust, also known as a supplemental needs trust, can be of particular benefit to parents of children with special needs. Individuals with special needs are often placed on long waiting lists to receive certain government benefits. If they inherit property outright, they may no longer qualify for benefits they need, and will have to "spend down" their assets before they again qualify. Once they qualify again, they must go back on the waiting list, waiting months or years for needed benefits. A special needs trust can help to avoid this problem and protect your child's assets.
If you have a child with special needs, but do not have an up-to-date estate plan in place, you should act quickly to protect your child's future. Steve Turkett can help you understand your needs and which estate planning tools can best meet them. For a consultation and to learn more, call Turkett Law Office, PLLC at (817) 769-2750 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.