Every adult in the District of Columbia should have an estate plan. At minimum, they will need a will. However, for families with special needs children, there are additional estate planning considerations. Even as adults, these children will need assistance from other people or organizations. It’s important for parents to create a plan that will sustain their special needs children throughout their lifetimes.
Wills and additional documents
A will is the foundational document of any estate plan. It makes it possible for you to name an executor to carry out your wishes and a guardian for your minor children should you pass away while they are still young. Some special needs children fit into that category. Parents should look into the rules regarding guardianships and conservatorships about a year before their child reaches the legal age of majority. It can take several months to establish a guardianship.
The estate planning process for families with special needs children also involves letters of intent. This is a document that will let those who survive you know what you want for your child. It should spell out your ideas about what kind of life your child should have. Will they live with family? In a group home? The details and quality of life for them must be considered carefully.
Finally, a special needs trust can be a great gift for your child. It can provide funding for activities and pets that will enhance your child’s quality of life. When they’re set up correctly, these trusts won’t affect your child’s ability to receive benefits like Social Security.
Estate planning is more complex for families with special needs children. Be prepared to revisit your plan regularly as your life evolves and your child grows and changes. That’s one of the keys to making a comprehensive plan that can work for your whole family.