A Special Needs Trust is just the beginning in planning for the needs of a special needs individual, particularly as parents age. There are several steps that can be taken to ensure quality of life.
Many special needs individuals are able to live independently and have fulfilling jobs. Parents often use special needs trusts to supplement the child’s income and any public benefits for the child. As parents age, they are concerned about how their children will manage when they are no longer alive and able to help their children.
NJ.com’s article, “Long-term planning for a special needs child,” says there are several things parents can do to help children with special needs years into the future.
Consider a guardianship proceeding if your child with special needs isn’t able to manage his or her financial or medical decisions without help. Be certain that your will designates a successor guardian.
Next, draft a letter of intent to help the successor guardian or those designated to care for him to manage the transition after you pass away. This isn’t a formal legal document, but it’s a memorialization of the child’s needs to guide the caregiver, guardian, and trustee of the special needs trust in providing the best possible care for the child. A letter of intent should include information about the child’s schedule, diet, medications, medical and dental care, and his or her public benefits, along with information about his living arrangements, social activities and religion. Review and update the document periodically and keep it with your estate planning documents.
If the parents are well enough, they may want to consider the purchase of life insurance with the special needs trust as a beneficiary. An independent insurance broker will be able to identify the appropriate policies.
An experienced estate planning attorney will be able to help parents put a comprehensive plan in place that will provide protection for the special needs individual and peace of mind for the parents.
Reference: NJ.com (May 9, 2017) “Long-term planning for a special needs child.”