Aug 12, 2009

Eighteen is not the magic number: Why you need to establish a Special Needs Trust Now

It's an alarming statistic: According to a recent study by Hartford Insurance, three out of five parents with special needs children have no plan to protect their child after the parents pass away.

True, parents of special needs children often face crushing time and financial pressures. Those pressures can push legal planning to the back burner. Many parents also believe they can wait to establish a Special Needs Trust until their child turns 18, when Medicaid and SSI kick in.

But waiting is a mistake. If you are a parent of a child with special needs, there are compelling reasons for you to establish a Special Needs Trust right now.

Among the reasons you shouldn't wait:

  • An estate plan will provide stability for your child if you die. And you have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your child will be cared for, with the Special Needs Trust providing maximum flexibility and protection for the child.

  • A Special Needs Trust provides a safe haven for gifts and inheritances your child receives from relatives. It ensures those monies will be properly managed. It also ensures that those monies are not in the child's name when he turns 18, which could jeopardize his eligibility for vital government benefits.

  • If you have a life insurance policy intended to care for your child after you're gone, the policy can be put into a Special Needs Trust. Monies that flow into it will be managed by the trustee(s) for the child's benefit.

  • The trust can also serve as legal owner of a home, reducing the risks of placing property into the hands of someone who may not be able to properly maintain it.

  • The special needs trust can provide care management as well as a structure for family involvement in the daily activities of a person with special needs. In addition, experienced special needs trustees can be a great resource for you if you need additional care options for your child.

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