Raising a special-needs child comes with numerous extra commitments, such as frequent doctor appointments, IEP meetings at school, and physical or speech therapy, to name just a few. For some parents, caring for their child’s basic needs is already a full-time job. They become so focused on the present that they put off dealing with future decisions regarding their special-needs child. While this is understandable, it can put your family in a difficult position both legally and emotionally.
The Importance of Naming a Guardian for Your Special Needs Child
No one knows how to advocate and care for your child like you do. This is something you instinctively know, and you work hard every day because you understand how much your child needs you.
Considering who would care for your special needs child if you or your spouse passed away or became disabled yourself is uncomfortable. Even so, we urge you to think about this question and name a legal guardian in writing. Should the worst come to pass, the fact that you named a legal guardian earlier will mean less disruption for your special-needs child during an already difficult and stressful time. The guardian should be someone both you and your child know and trust.
Becoming Your Child’s Legal Guardian After Age 18
If your child has a developmental or cognitive disability, there is a good chance he or she will not be able to make important decisions independently, regardless of chronological age. By appointing yourself a legal guardian, you can continue to make medical, legal, and financial decisions for your child just as you did while he or she was a minor.
Many parents of special needs children also worry that others would take advantage of their disability once they are no longer around to protect them. Appointing a guardian over a disabled adult child can help to reduce these fears.
How to Set Up a Supplemental Needs Trust for a Disabled Child
This tool ensures that your child has enough financial resources to meet future expenses without losing eligibility for federal or state assistance programs. We have seen many well-meaning parents leave most of their estate to a special-needs child only for their son or daughter to lose social security benefits. A better idea is to establish a trust for your child without putting assets in his or her name.
When you establish a supplemental trust, you choose a trustee to administer it who must follow state guidelines and the requirements you stipulated. The benefit of this arrangement is that it provides for future expenses while keeping your child’s social security and Medicaid benefits intact.
Contact Our Experienced Elder and Disability Law Firm to Learn More
Naming a guardian, becoming your disabled child’s legal guardian in adulthood, and setting up a special trust all require experienced legal guidance to do correctly. We invite you to request a consultation from Beasley & Ferber Law Firm to learn more about each of these processes.