How to Protect Your Special Needs Child in Your Will

Preparing a will is an essential step for any parent, but when you are the parent of a special needs child, the importance of planning for the future takes on an added layer of urgency. The right decisions can ensure your child’s continued well-being and financial security even when you are no longer there to provide care. Our estate planning lawyers can guide you through the process of protecting your special needs child with a will.

Should I Create a Will or Trust for My Special Needs Child?

The first step is understanding the unique legal and financial needs of special needs beneficiaries. Benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be crucial for your child, but an inheritance could disrupt their eligibility. It’s essential to create a plan that supplements, not replaces, these benefits. In many cases, trusts are the best option when it comes to protecting special needs children. Trusts can be standalone documents or part of your will. Here’s how to set up a trust for your special needs child:

  • Seek Expert Advice – Start by consulting with an attorney who specializes in estate planning for families with special needs beneficiaries. They can provide guidance tailored to your child’s specific situation and help you understand the legal intricacies involved.
  • Opt for a Special Needs Trust – A Special Needs Trust (SNT) is designed to manage assets for people with disabilities without affecting their government aid.
  • Choosing a Trustee – Selecting the right trustee is pivotal. This person will manage the trust’s assets and make financial decisions on behalf of your child. Consider someone who understands your child’s needs and is willing to take on this responsibility.
  • Gather the Necessary Documentation – Prepare all necessary documents with your lawyer, including the trust agreement that names the trustee and outlines the trust's terms.
  • Designate How You Will Fund the Trust - Decide how you will fund the trust, whether through life insurance, savings, or other assets.
  • Detailing the Use of Funds – Clearly articulate how the funds in the trust should be used. This might include specifying expenses like medical care, education, personal care attendants, and other daily living expenses. These guidelines can help the trustee make decisions that align with your wishes.
  • Letter of Intent – While not legally binding, a letter of intent serves as a road map for anyone taking care of your child. It can detail your child’s routines, preferences, and other information about their medical care, education, and living arrangements.

Regularly Updating Your Will and Trust Is Key

Circumstances change, and so might the needs of your special needs child. Review and update your will and trust regularly or after significant life events to ensure they remain aligned with your current wishes and your child’s current and future needs.

Schedule a Consultation with Our Estate Planning Attorneys in Harrisburg, PA

Protecting a special needs child in your will and through a special needs trust provides not only financial security but also peace of mind. It ensures your child's lifestyle and care continue as intended, with minimal disruption, after you're gone. It’s a delicate process, but with the right planning and expert advice, you can ensure your child's protection for years to come.

At Scaringi Law, we carefully handle every case based on our clients’ specific requirements. Our lawyers will help you organize your estate and create a will or trust that clearly shows how you want your assets to be distributed after you’re gone.

Give us a call at (717) 775-7195 or get in touch with us online today to schedule an estate planning consultation.


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