Parents raising a child with significant special needs often continue advocating for their care into adulthood. As time passes, the adult child may continue living at home, or he or she may move into a supported living environment. This situation can work well for many years. However, as parents get older and less equipped to manage or provide for their child, it is essential to prepare. Here are some considerations for aging parents and planning for an adult child with special needs.
It is not uncommon for parents to want to leave their estates to their children. However, when parents want to leave an inheritance to a child with special needs, they may need to make specific arrangements. In many cases, an individual with a significant disability is going to depend on government benefits such as Medi-Cal (California Medicaid) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These are means-tested benefits, and someone who has too much income will be disqualified from receiving them. When a benefit recipient directly inherits property, money, or anything else of value, it can be counted as income. Fortunately, parents who want their child to inherit from their estate have options which will not interfere with their child’s benefits.
Special Needs Trusts
A special needs trust is a unique financial tool which allows funds to be used for the benefit of someone with a disability without endangering his or her government benefits. Parents can fund the trust throughout their child’s life and through their estate plans. The funds can be used to improve the beneficiary’s quality of life by paying for expenses such as computers, education, travel, recreation, fitness memberships, clothing, and therapeutic services not covered by Medi-Cal. When parents anticipate their child will need care into adulthood, it is a good idea to set up a special needs trust. That way, parents and other loved ones will have time to add to the funds throughout the child’s life and ensure that he or she has what they need to be comfortable later on.
If you and your loved ones can personally attend to your child’s advanced needs, it makes sense that you would want to do so into his or her adulthood. Knowing that his or her needs are being personally attended to by loving family members is reassuring for everyone. However, it’s important to be realistic about the future and what life will be like for your child when you can no longer provide care. By taking the time to set up benefits, services, and funding, you can help make certain he or she will have the comfort and security they need today and in the future.