Special Needs Issues: Special Needs Planning and the Absentee Parent

Not all families come from storybooks or primetime television. Not every parent remains in his or her child’s life, which can be very painful for both the child and the other parent. This can create financial issues too, since the other parent is gone but maybe still living. This can create unique issues with special needs planning and determining eligibility for benefits. This is where a Virginia Special Needs Planning lawyer can be especially beneficial. If you’re not sure, or simply don’t know what the absentee parent has planned (if anything) here are some ways your lawyer can guide you.

Find out if the other parent is alive or not. It’s entirely possible for one parent to be unaware if the other is alive or dead. As far as estate planning goes, if the absentee parent has died, they may have left an estate to which your child is an heir. This can affect your estate plans, as well as your child’s eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and housing benefits.

Find out if the other parent has a Special Needs plan in effect. While it may not be very likely, it’s possible that the absentee parent felt responsible for the child and created a Special Needs Trust even without you knowing.

Work with the other parent’s lawyer to create or change a plan, if possible. Your Special Needs Planning Attorney can work with the absentee parent’s attorney so the two of you can do Special Needs Planning without having to sit down and work together. If you’re not looking forward to a reunion, this may be an option.

Work with the other parent’s lawyer to decide on guardianship issues. If you want to be named sole legal guardian of your special needs child when he or she turns 18, a Special Needs Planning Lawyer can advocate on your behalf.

Note that your special needs lawyer cannot compel the other parent to become involved with his or her adult child or to create any sort of inheritance or Special Needs Trust. It is not a pleasant thought at all, but there is a real possibility that someone stays away because they want to stay away. A Special Needs Planning Attorney knows the particular laws involved, but likely cannot force the other parent to do something they’re not willing to do and not obligated by law to do.

It’s never too early to start planning for your special needs child. In the case where one parent is gone, planning can become more complicated. An experienced Special Needs Planning Attorney can help you plan for your child’s future and prepare for any surprises or disappointments if the other parent won’t be or isn’t expected to be involved.

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