Caring for your child with special needs requires much more thought and planning. After all, you are responsible to ensure the well-being of your child in a world without you.
CNBC recently touched on this topic, offering up a solution - the special needs trust. If this topic touches you and someone you love, then take a moment to read the original article titled “Special needs trusts: Helping parents provide for kids' futures.”
Basically, trusts are powerful legal devices made to do what you program them to do, all under the watchful gaze of a responsible trustee. The needs of a child with special needs are especially amenable to special planning.
For starters, you cannot leave your assets to them outright, as your child with special needs is unlikely able to manage and use them. In fact, just owning them might endanger their government assistance benefits.
Sure, money could be left to another child or other loved one with express instructions to care for the child with special needs. However, without formalization, it is never guaranteed that the money will be used to this purpose. Instead, that money would be open to the other individual’s liabilities, lawsuits, divorces, and other legal pitfalls.
Enter the special needs trust.
The special needs trust solves all of this in a very tidy way and even ensures that there is always a financial guardian in the form of a trustee.
Why do you need to leave assets to your child with special needs in the first place? After all, he or she will be receiving government assistance, right? This depends greatly upon the nature of the care needed, of course. But as many parents can already attest, those government benefits can only take you so far and even sometimes force decisions.
Your special needs trust can provide care even in the absence of such benefits, if your have the means of course. The federal and state governments certainly are not flush with cash! Consider the special needs trust a prudent "safety net" for a more secure future without you ... or the government.
When you boil it all down, the express goal of a special needs trust is to bridge the gaps and protect all aspects of the life and longevity of your special loved one. Just what kind of a trust you can put together and what kind of needs you have to fulfill depends on your finances and your child. Regardless, the trust needs to be drafted by a steady hand and a careful mind.
Competent legal counsel can knit together the appropriate plan. Period.
In the end, special needs planning is not just about peace of mind now, but the assurance of a happy life for your special loved one.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: CNBC (May 31, 2014) “Special needs trusts: Helping parents provide for kids' futures”