When a child has a significant special need or disability, their parents often take care of them well into adulthood. As time passes and aging parents can no longer provide for their child’s advanced needs, the caregiver alternatives are ordinarily other family members or professional service providers. In this circumstance, a sibling is likely to be involved in assisting their brother or sister in the future. Without preparations, taking on a sibling’s care can be an overwhelming responsibility, and someone in this position will want to consider: How can I plan for my disabled sibling?
Planning for the Future as a Family Now
Sometimes, parents can unintentionally leave siblings out when preparing for a disabled child. They may do this because they think of the caregiving responsibility as being only theirs or because they don’t want to burden their other children. Although their considerations may be well-intended, planning for your disabled sibling is going to require an open and honest conversation between you and your parents.
It’s going to be vital to get everyone’s thoughts and expectations out in the open for discussion sooner rather than later. If, for example, your parents had always assumed you would take over when they were no longer able to care for your brother, this is information you need to know now. Finding out about this assumption would be especially important if you have a family or plans that may not comport with their expectations. You and your parents should schedule a time to sit down together as soon as possible and discuss planning for the future as a family.
As much as a sibling may love their brother or sister, becoming a full-time caregiver is a tremendous amount of work. For many people, taking on this type of responsibility in addition to their other commitments is not feasible. Additionally, you want your brother or sister to have the best care possible. You may not be equipped to manage their medical or physical needs. Further, if you are working or have other responsibilities outside of the home, you may not be able to give them the time and energy they need. It’s essential to be truthful with yourself and your family. Being realistic about what will work for your life sooner will help you and your parents plan for your sibling’s future going forward.
Planning for Future Financial Support
Your parents’ care may have always covered your sibling’s food, shelter, and basic needs. If your brother or sister is not already receiving government benefits, you and your family may need to take steps to begin the application process. Programs like Social Security Income (SSI) and Medi-Cal (California Medicaid) are probably going to be a critical source of support for your sibling’s personal and medical expenses.
Contributing to a California Special Needs Trust
Ordinarily, a recipient of SSI or Medi-Cal is only permitted to have a limited amount of income and still qualify for the program’s benefits. If your sibling earns or is given too much money or a valuable asset, they could be disqualified from receiving SSI or Medi-Cal.
A California Special Needs Trust is a unique savings instrument that allows family members and loved ones to place funds and assets into a trust for a disabled person’s benefit without endangering their public-benefit eligibility. Your family can build this trust through your sibling’s lifetime.
Special needs trusts can be used to pay for specific expenses to improve your sibling’s quality of life. For instance, the trust disbursements can be issued to pay for costs such as those related to their travel expenses, computer equipment, club dues, hobby supplies, non-covered medical expenses, home furnishings, transportation, and clothing.
Additionally, if your parents or other family members leave an inheritance to your sibling, it could end up disqualifying them from receiving their income-sensitive government benefits. However, inherited assets or funds can be directed into a California special needs trust without being counted as “income” to the beneficiary.
At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we are experienced California special needs planning attorneys who can help you evaluate your situation and determine the best solutions for your disabled loved one. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.