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How should you prepare an estate plan for a special needs child?

Every family has unique estate planning needs and yours is no different. If you are the parent of a special needs child, you have to consider his or her needs when drawing your estate plan.

According to Fidelity, special needs children may remain dependent on others for their entire life. You will not be there forever, so it is up to you to have a strategy in place to help your child.

Host a family meeting
Your estate plan should begin by establishing your goals. Have conversations with appropriate family members, financial advisors, physicians and more so that you know how you want to divide your estate. You should have an idea of what your child’s needs will be. You should always talk through what you want to do beforehand.

Create a trust
In most cases, you will want to consider establishing a trust. When you create a trust, then you do not have to worry about your child making major financial decisions. Many special needs children cannot manage their finances. If you have a caregiver or a family member who plans to care for your child, then you should consider leaving money to him or her also.

SSI benefits depend on a person’s income and assets. If you leave your child money, he or she could lose the benefits provided. However, if you leave the money in the trust, then you can set up limits so that there is no interference with SSI.

When you create a special needs trust, make sure to update it regularly. You reassess your estate plan at least once every three to five years.