By Fairfax Virginia Disability Lawyer, Sheri Abrams
Your time and energy are spent helping your child with special needs to get the most out of life. But, have you ever considered what would happen to your child if you were to suddenly become incapacitated or pass away?
Working with an experienced Fairfax Virginia Disability Lawyer is an important step in helping to formulate a plan that would ensure that your child is properly cared for in your absence. A Special Needs Planning attorney can assist you in getting your affairs in order and help you work through all of the options to set aside enough resources and choose caretakers who may be called upon to assist your child in the future. By taking care of these issues now, you can ensure that things are in place and ready to go should you suddenly become unable to care for your child. Here are examples of what you should take into consideration:
Plan to Become Your Child’s Legal Guardian at Age 18
When your child turns 18, he or she will be considered a legal adult in the eyes of the law, regardless of his or her disabilities. As such, parents will need to petition the local court for a legal Guardianship, which gives mom and/or dad the right to remain in control of the adult child’s affairs. The parents will also have the ability to name co-guardians who can share this responsibility with them if necessary, as well as successor guardians who would take over this role if something happens to mom or dad in the future.
Be Careful When Leaving Your Child an Inheritance
Most special needs attorneys will recommend that you don’t leave assets directly to your child with special needs. This may seem cold, but it is actually doing your loved one a favor. If a person with special needs inherits assets – even an insignificant sum – they can be disqualified from various types of public assistance programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid, for example.
Set Up a Special Needs Trust
Your situation may call for a specific trust to be set up and funded for your child with special needs. A Special Needs Trust (SNT) is often used to protect assets for your loved one while allowing them to continue receiving benefits like SSI or Medicaid. You will also need to decide how you will fund the trust and who will be named as trustee to manage the assets in the trust. A qualified Special Needs Planning attorney can help you work through all of your options.
If you would like to learn more about special needs planning or if you would like to have your current Special Needs Trust reviewed to make sure it is still appropriate for your family’s situation, please set up an appointment at the Fairfax area office of the Law Firm of Sheri R. Abrams by calling (571) 328-5795.