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What is the best plan for my sibling with special needs?

12/08/2022 | Special Needs Trust
What Is The Best Plan For My Sibling With Special Needs

In families where a child has extensive special needs, siblings and their parents often band together to make sure they have all they require and that the household runs smoothly. As the child’s brothers and sisters grow up and begin adult lives of their own, he or she may remain in the family home being cared for by aging parents.  In time, the child’s parents may not be able to continue in this role.  For a brother or sister in this situation, the question can arise: What is the best plan for my sibling with special needs?


When a child has special needs and lives with family, paying for housing and food may not be as much of an issue.  However, medical care and other expenses are likely to be a concern.  If your parents have not taken steps to help your sibling apply for Social Security Income (SSI) or Medi-Cal (California Medicaid) they probably need to do so as soon as possible.  Without your parents’ care and support, your brother or sister may struggle to pay for necessary medical treatment and other necessities.

California Special Needs Trust

When discussing the future with your parents, you should ask if they have started a California Special Needs Trust for your sibling.  This important savings device allows families to put money away for their loved one with a special need without endangering their government program benefits.  The trust payments can be used for several expenses that can improve the recipient’s quality of life, such as travel, transportation, furniture, clothing, and massage therapy.  Your parents may have a will that directs a portion of their estate to your sibling. Receiving this inheritance could and most likely would, disrupt his or her government benefits.  However, if these funds went into a California special needs trust, they could be used to benefit your sibling without interfering with their benefits.

Living Situation

If your brother or sister has advanced needs and is living with a parent, you will need to assess whether this is sustainable with you or another family member. For many people, taking on a full-time caregiver role in addition to the responsibilities of their own household is more than they will be able to handle. You, your other siblings, and parents should have an honest discussion about the future.  If you don’t expect to have them reside in your home, you should begin looking into possible living arrangements and options for your brother or sister now. That way you and your parents can take the time you need to locate the right living situation and help them transition into their new home gradually.

Planning for your sibling with special needs can be complicated. Especially if you and your parents are not on the same page. By sitting down with a special needs planning attorney, you can examine options and help your family prepare for your sibling’s future. At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we have experience with special needs planning and can help you develop the right plan for your family.  Schedule a consultation today to explore your options so you can make informed decisions.