mother holding her baby boy and kissing his chubby cheek

How Will You Provide for Your Special Needs Child after You Die?

The greatest gift you can give your special needs child is your time.  However, more often than not, your child will outlive you.

No one will take better care of your child than you.  However, with proper planning, you can make sure your wishes for the care of your special needs child are carried out even after you die.

You need to consider how to fund and plan the care of your special needs child after you depart this earth.  Wise parents think through key questions regarding how to take care of their child even when alive.

However, you also need to think through the financial planning aspects unique to special needs children.  Otherwise, you run the risk of your child suffering inadequate care.

Fortunately, you can take action to increase your prospects for success.

Faulty Planning Could Ruin Your Special Needs Child’s Life

Merely having enough assets to support your special needs child will not guarantee success.

Many families with special needs children receive government funding.  Programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid fund adults with needs as well as children.

However, bequeathing your child an inheritance upon your death might actually do more harm than good for a couple of reasons:

  1. Your child will lose eligibility for government benefit if their wealth exceeds minimum thresholds. That means your child might not be able to afford the quality of paid care you would like them to continue to receive.
  2. There is a real risk that your special needs child could end up in poverty after you are gone. Expecting your special needs child to manage sudden wealth is a risk proposition, especially when so many of their peers end up blowing their money in a short period of time. Do not underestimate the risk of others with impure motives to try to steal your child’s inheritance.  Some greedy people, including relatives, caregivers, and new “friends”, might try to take advantage of your special needs child.   Safeguard your child from these predators.

Prudent Planning Can Help to Look after Your Special Needs Child Long after You Are Gone.

So what can you do?

  1. Make sure you have a will and/or trust that is current.
  2. Investigate whether you should open a special needs trust. You should confer your inheritance to the trust, not directly to your special needs child, as beneficiary.  The trust will provide for the child’s needs in accordance with your instructions.  Additionally, your special needs child is still likely to qualify for continued government assistance.[1]
  3. Formulate specific instructions in the trust for your child’s future care. Some questions to ask include:
    • Will your special needs child require daily custodial care?
    • If your child will remain at home, will your home need special improvements (elevator, exercise gym)?
    • What about continuing medical treatments?
    • Should you child stay alone or in a group facility?
    • Can some other family member assist in care?
  4. Identify other people (perhaps including other family members) who will be involved in the future care of your special needs child
    1. Guardian – identify someone who will be the primary caregiver for your special needs child. Outline their responsibilities under a “Letter of Intent”.
    2. Trustee – someone who is trustworthy and capable of making sure funds are managed properly and disbursed to fund the care of your special needs child.

Care for your Special Needs Child Now and Well into the Future.

Planning for your special needs child can be complex.  With proper planning and assistance from qualified professionals, you can gain hope that your special needs child will receive the care needed even well after you depart this earth.  That is a legacy worth living for.


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[1] Using a trust involves a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward with a trust, consider working with a professional who is familiar with the rules and regulations.

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