Livens & Reed, PLLC

Estate planning provides extra benefits for special needs child

Parents of a child with special needs residing in Texas can establish a number of protections for the care of the child in the event that the parents die first. One of the initial estate planning considerations will be to have a will that appoints a guardian that is thoroughly informed on the child's needs. The parents will also write a letter of instructions that details all aspects of the child's condition, special treatment considerations, the child's special preferences and a list of medical providers.

The creation of a special needs trust can be a vital planning tool to maximize financial support to the child in future years. The funds held in a properly drafted trust will not count as the child's assets for purposes of receiving Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid. The trust can also serve as the beneficiary of life insurance and retirement benefits on the parent's lives. This money can be used for services that are not covered by the government assistance programs.

The funds can also be used for the improvement of the child's quality of life. It is recommended that the parents meet with an attorney with special needs experience to draft the special needs trust well before the child reaches age 18. This will help to assure that there are no complications with respect to qualifying for government benefits.

With respect to purchasing life insurance, the parents should be sure to buy a policy on both of their lives, even if one of the parents is solely a caretaker for the child and is not an income producer. When obtaining an estate planning attorney in Texas for these purposes, it is helpful to inquire whether the attorney has had experience in special needs situations. This will assure the parents that they are getting professional assistance that will focus on the special needs importance in establishing the framework of the estate.

Source:, "Estate Planning for Parents, Special-Needs Children-Kiplinger", Kimberly Lankford, Aug. 2, 2016

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