As a parent of a special needs child, you know you must plan for the future. You need to have something in place to handle all the roadblocks that may come up in time, such as when your child reaches the age of 18 or your own inability to care for your child as you age.
The American Bar Association explains there are several types of special needs planning you may want to consider for your child’s future.
When your child turns 18 years old, he or she is an adult regardless of abilities or limitations. Prior to your child reaching adulthood, you should consider naming a guardian for your minor special needs child in your Will. Once your child reaches 18, you may need to have your child sign a Power of Attorney or have a court appoint you as guardian, depending on your child’s special needs. The Power of Attorney will allow you act on behalf of your child. A guardianship will provide you with the legal right to make decisions for your incapacitated child, based on a court order.
You also may wish to plan ahead for any government benefits your child may be eligible for as an adult. You should look into what Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to determine if your child needs them and what will be needed to be eligible. Many programs depend on income and assets, so you may need to adjust finances and inheritances to ensure your child qualifies for needed benefits.
As your child gets older, you may begin to plan what will happen in the future depending on your special needs child’s abilities or limitations. You need to consider if your child will continue living at home or move out. You should discuss this as a family and allow your child to have input, if possible. There are different types of housing available for your child..
It is essential to have an estate plan that covers your child’s needs, possibly including a special needs trust so that eligibility for government benefits is not lost. You want to know what will happen when you are no longer able to care for your child or after your death.
Planning ahead is a must if your child has special needs and cannot care for him or herself fully. Special needs planning can give you peace of mind and ensure your child always has the care he or she needs.