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3 Essential Considerations When Planning for a Child With Special Needs

Americans, including those with disabilities, live longer lives than in years past. A staggering 730,000 people with developmental disabilities rely on caregivers who are 60 or older. This figure does not account for adult children with other types of disability who live separately yet rely on their families for essential aid.

When these parents cannot care for their children due to their disability or death, the burden generally transfers to siblings, other relatives, and the community. When parents can no longer provide care and guidance, expenses will frequently rise sharply as they now must be paid for through a professional.

Parents who plan can make a massive difference in the lives of their children with disabilities and their siblings, who may be left to care for them. Including these three components in a plan can help relieve some of the stress and pressure on everyone involved:

A Plan of Care
A written statement of the parents’ wishes for the child’s care can be highly beneficial. A plan of care establishes where the child with special needs will live, who will be responsible for assisting them with decision-making, and who will monitor their care. Because the parents likely know their child’s special needs better than anyone else, they can best explain what helps their child, hurts them, reassures them, etc.

A Special Needs Trust
More often than not, it is best for a parent to leave funds for a child with a disability upon their death through a trust. Trusts established for a child’s care are typically called “supplemental” or “special needs” trusts. This type of trust is managed by a trustee and names the person with special needs as the beneficiary. Many people do not have the expertise to manage a trust, so choosing a trustee is an important decision. Appointing a professional trustee may be the ideal solution for some people, but not everyone is comfortable with an outsider managing their family member’s affairs. In this case, it is possible to simultaneously appoint a trust “protector,” who has the power to review accounts and to hire and fire trustees, and a trust “advisor,” who instructs the trustee on the beneficiary’s needs.

Life Insurance
Buying life insurance is one way to fund a supplemental needs trust set up for the child’s support. A trust that initially appears to be a significant amount may not last long if used to cover the costs of care that the parent previously provided. Having additional resources can ensure that the child receives better support. The cost of “second-to-die” insurance, paid out only when the second parent dies, can be surprisingly cheap if both parents are still living.

Planning for a child with special needs can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have any questions or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.

RSA Law Group provides legal information, not legal advice. Our information explains general legal concepts and principles which may or may not be applicable to a particular person’s situation. No attorney-client relationship exists between the site and any user. RSA Law Group makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this site. Because legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each client case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing on this site should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. If you require legal advice, we encourage you to contact us to develop an attorney-client relationship.


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