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Estate planning for parents of children with special needs

While there's an expectation that your child will eventually grow up and be self-sustaining, this isn't necessarily the case if you have a child with special needs. If you do, then most likely your obligation to care for them is long term, which includes devising an estate plan that can ensure they're cared for once you, yourself, have passed.

Wills are ideal for any decedent to have in place to ensure that their assets are divided up in accordance with their wishes and to avoid a lengthy probate process. If you have a special needs child though, they're even more important. This is because they often include directives that spell out a parent's care preferences for them. This helps prevent lapses in care from occurring.

As part of the estate planning process, your attorney may advise you that setting up a guardianship or conservatorship for your special needs child is also ideal. By setting this up, you are essentially telling the court who you wish to be appointed to take care of your child when you no longer can yourself.

It's important that you let whoever you ask to fulfill this role that you're putting them in this position. You should also advise them of the scope of the decision making they'll be called to take in this role.

In addition to deciding who is going to take care of your child physically, you'll also want to decide how they're going to take care of them financially as well. You may find that contributing to an Achieving a Better Life (ABLE) account may carry certain tax-advantages, provided withdrawals are made for qualified expenses. These include costs for housing, support and legal services, education, and health care.

At this time, you'll also want to decide how to handle inheritance matters. This is especially important since special needs kids can lose their Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits if they're listed as beneficiaries on your will. It's because of this that you may find setting up a trust to be more ideal in your situation. This option can provided added tax benefits as well.

If you have a special needs child and you want to ensure that they're taken care of long after you're gone, then an Irving, Texas estate planning attorney can provide the necessary guidance in your case.

Source: Iron Mountain Daily News, "Financial planning for parents who have adult children with special needs," Marc Morgan, Oct. 02, 2017

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