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Providing for a child or adult with special needs

Parents raising a child with special needs are often overcome by the daily tasks associated with providing for a child’s care and wellbeing. Children with physical or mental disabilities often require special medical care and benefit from additional counseling or treatment. Not only is providing care to a special needs child physically and emotionally taxing, but it can also be financially taxing.

Given the stresses associated with providing care to a child with special needs, it stands to reason that some parents haven't given much thought to a child's future needs. While it's difficult to think about, all parents must make plans should the unthinkable occur and a child is left without legal guardians.

It's the job of parents to provide for a child's physical, emotional, mental and financial health. What happens to a child, however, if one or both parents die and are no longer able to care and provide for a child? For parents with a special needs child, questions raised when contemplating this scenario are especially important and must be addressed and answered.

Many children with physical and mental disabilities qualify to receive disability benefits. There are, however, strict income limits that must not be exceeded. It's important, therefore, that parents set up appropriate estate planning accounts that provide for a child's future care needs while also preserving a child or adult's disability eligibility.

Most estate planning professionals recommend parents with a special needs child establish what's known as a special needs trust. This trust can be funded in a number of ways and, because assets are held in the trust's name, don’t jeopardize a child or adult's eligibility to receive disability benefits.

Every family and child's situation is unique. For this reason, it's important that parents seek the advice and assistance of an estate planning attorney who has experience providing for a special needs child or adult.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "Plan for the future care of your special needs child -- the right way," Elise Rodriquez, Dec. 20, 2013

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