What Happens to My Special Needs Child if I Die?

estate planning in indiana

Estate Law for a Special Needs Child

As a parent, you naturally want to do everything you can to ensure a safe and comfortable life for your special needs son or daughter. Unfortunately, no parent can plan to be there for the entirety of a child’s life. This stark reality may worry you greatly as you contemplate the future of your special needs child after you pass away.

When your child requires substantial care and support, estate law offers you viable options for planning your special needs child’s financial future. Guidance from an estate planning lawyer from Webster & Garino LLC could help you adopt strategies for building long-term peace of mind for all involved.

Contact our dedicated special needs estate planning attorneys for assistance in creating a quality estate plan. Our team has prepared this article to help parents understand their options. Learn more about how you can still care for your child with special needs after death in Westfield, Indiana, and the surrounding areas across our state.

Preservation of Government Benefits

Many special needs children are eligible for financial support from government programs throughout their lives. Our estate planning attorneys can help make a plan to ensure your child’s eligibility for government benefits throughout the rest of his or her life.

Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income are the two primary government benefits that many special needs families must maintain for their adult children’s well-being. In Indiana, a person with disability cannot have more than $2,000 in assets to qualify for Medicaid. An individual with assets above this threshold, no matter how small, cannot get benefits unless the assets qualify as exemptions.

Unless you have the financial resources to fund your child’s whole life, you will need to limit your child’s assets and income upon reaching age 18 so that your child does not lose access to government benefits. Realistically, even if you have significant resources, the value of the government benefits over the life of your disabled child could easily exceed generous contributions from other family members.

An experienced estate planning lawyer could explain methods for limiting the assets in your child’s name. As a firm practicing estate law, Webster & Garino LLC, has guided many families through this process and is ready to assist you with the necessary estate planning documents.

How to Use Trusts to Support a Special Needs Person

Laws for estate planning in Indiana enable the use of trusts to insulate your child from asset acquisitions that would cut government benefits. One option is to establish a special needs trust or SNT. This is also known as a supplemental care trust.

In this case, you wouldcreate an estate plan fr yourself which would place your money and other assets used for your child’s future support into the trust upon your passing, which can be accessed for the benefit of your child. In the eyes of the law, the trust owns the assets. It allows the child, the trust’s beneficiary, to keep personal assets below the threshold for collecting Medicaid and other government benefits.

The trustee, which you select in advance, could then pay for goods and services that your child might need. In this way, your child would have resources to rely upon over the long term, while still qualifying for public benefits.

An SNT trust could also increase your confidence that your son or daughter will enjoy a quality of life beyond total reliance on government programs, even without being fully financially independent.

An estate planning lawyer in Indiana could help you explore the advantages of setting up a third-party special needs trust. The third-party trust might be a good fit for your family if you have an inheritance that you wish to set aside for your child. In this case, a living trust or your will distributes the assets to the special needs trust.

The good news here is that a special needs trust is not a tool enjoyed exclusively by wealthy families. You need only cover the initial expenses of setting up the trust and trust administration and placing money in the trust often occurs after your passing. For example, the trust could be ready to hold your life insurance payout and direct funds as needed to your adult child. Other members of your family who wish to help your child could also contribute to the trust at any time.

In other situations, you may need a self-settled trust, also known as a first-party special needs trust. This type of trust receives assets that are already in your child’s name. For example, some disabled people receive personal injury settlements. You could send the settlement money to the trust. This preserves the adult special needs person’s access to benefits.

Understanding and establishing trusts is a complicated aspect of Indiana estate planning. Contact Webster & Garino LLC today for assistance developing a plan to leave assets behind for your child to access throughout his or her lifetime.

Establishment of Independent Living Arrangements

Depending on your child’s abilities, you may be able to help your child transition to adult life in other ways.

Workplace assistance for people with developmental disabilities could connect your child with a job. Depending on his or her ability, your adult child might find an apartment or group home and develop the skills to live more independently.

This path does not work for all special needs families. If your child needs daily hands-on care, you will have many more expenses and medical decisions to consider over the long term. You also will have to consider where your child will live after you pass, who to name as a guardian, and how to coordinate benefits with your family’s estate. The attorneys at Webster & Garino LLC can help you with these decisions.

Choose Webster & Garino LLC, to Help with Estate Planning in Westfield, Indiana

We take the time to understand your unique circumstances and goals when planning for your child’s future. We also appreciate the depth of your emotional concern as you grapple with these critical financial decisions. To make an appointment with one of our compassionate and knowledgeable estate planning attorneys, call our office at 317-768-0958 today.