No Will and a Child with Special Needs
A clinical term describing children and adults who require partial or full assistance to perform necessary daily activities, special needs children have been diagnosed with permanent and severe psychological, mental/cognitive and/or physically disabling conditions. Disorders considered as “special needs” range from Down Syndrome, blindness and attention-deficit disorder to cerebral palsy, dyslexia and autism.
Parents or guardians of special needs children who have not yet completed an estate planning strategy should not delay in contacting an estate planning attorney. Parents of special needs children who do not have a will may be jeopardizing their child’s ability to obtain government benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in the future. Making sure all available assets are legally presented to a special needs child not only ensures that child is well taken care of but also avoid delays or denials of state and federal government assistance.
In addition to a will, parents of special needs children should also discuss drawing up a letter of intent, a supplemental needs trust and guardianship documents with their estate planning attorney.
1. Catastrophes Can Happen at Anytime
Parents of special needs children may not think about estate planning because they are young, healthy, and are able to provide adequately for their child. Unfortunately, the possibility that things can change dramatically in a split second is very real. Don’t wait to consult with an experienced estate planning lawyer about protecting your child’s future health and well-being.
2. Wills Save Time and Money
Leaving loved ones to deal with an estate not governed by a will is both reckless and unnecessary. Without a will stating exactly how your assets should be handled, your loved one will have to court repeatedly, fill out and submit hundreds of legal documents and spend much of their valuable time and money taking care of your unfinished business. Save your family from unexpected expenses, stress and potential arguments by scheduling an appointment with The Mattar Firm today.
3. Make Sure Your Estate is Distributed According to your Wishes
Dying “intestate”, or dying without a will, means all your property and money will be distributed according to your state’s laws. A judge–not family members–decide where your assets will go. A judge is also responsible for deciding who special needs children live with following the death of a parent or parents who neglect to leave a will. Finally, dying intestate also means a judge chooses who manages your child’s inheritance.
A will allows parents or guardians to name who they want to be their child’s guardian. No parent wants to leave it up to a judge to decide who takes care of their special needs child.
4. A Will Protects Special Needs Children
Children with special needs eventually require public assistance to be able to use adult services once they turn 18 years old. To be eligible for state and federal benefits, special needs children and adults must not exceed an income/asset level established by state and federal governments.
In most cases, if your estate passes by without a will, it is highly likely dependent children with special needs would “inherit” your assets. However, inheriting money may cause your child to be ineligible to receive public benefits. That’s why it may be necessary for you and your attorney to create a Supplemental Needs Trust in addition to a will to avoid this type of scenario.
5. A Will Gives You Peace of Mind
Knowing your special needs child will be taken care of in the manner you want him or her to be taken care not only gives you and your spouse peace of mind but also reassures family members they will not have to deal with the stress, worry and extra expenses involved in litigating your assets in court.
If you have a special needs child and worry about what may happen to that child if you or your spouse were to pass unexpectedly, it is important that you rely on an estate planning attorney who specializes in complex issues involved in special needs estate planning. Not all general estate planning attorneys have the in-depth knowledge and experience essential for developing a satisfactory and legally binding plan to protect your special needs child.
Contact The Mattar firm today if you or someone you know wants to qualify for guardianship for a special needs individual. Our estate planning attorneys are here to help you get your affairs in order so that you no longer have to worry about your special needs child’s future.