Q: Should I leave money for my child with special needs in my will?
– Prudent Parent
A: Dear Prudent:
No, and let me explain why—when planning for a loved one with special needs, you must be extremely careful and always work with an experienced lawyer like us, because if handled improperly, you can easily disqualify your loved one with special needs from much-needed government benefits. Because individuals with special needs often require a lifetime of care, most of them rely on government programs to offset the exorbitant costs of such care. However, these programs have strict income limits, so if you leave money directly to a person with special needs, such as through your will, you risk disqualifying him or her for those benefits. Instead, the government allows assets to be held in what’s known as a Special Needs Trust to provide supplemental financial resources for the person for the rest of his or her life, while preserving their access to government benefits.
However, the rules for Special Needs Trusts are complicated and can vary greatly between different states, so if you have a loved one with special needs, be sure to consult with us, your Personal Family Lawyer®. We can make certain that upon your death, your loved one with special needs would have the financial means they need to live a full life, without jeopardizing their access to vital government benefits.