7 Costly Mistakes When Planning For A Special Needs Child | Estate Plan Pros
Avoid These 7 Costly Mistakes When Planning for a Special Needs Child

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Children with disabilities can benefit greatly from advanced planning on the part of their parents.  Conversely, if the parents fail to plan for their special needs child’s future, that child could find themselves without resources and without assistance.  Here are seven costly mistakes to avoid when planning your estate for your special needs child.

Mistake #1: Ignoring your child’s special needs when creating your estate plan

Children with special needs often depend on services and benefits provided through the state, such as SSI or Medicaid.  A will or trust that doesn’t take the child’s special needs into account will probably make the child ineligible for these essential services.

Mistake #2: Disinheriting your special needs child

Some parents, aware of the eligibility issue decide to disinherit their special needs child.  While protecting their special needs child’s eligibility, this leaves the child without any additional assistance or resources – things that you as a parent are currently providing.

Mistake #3: Relying on your other children to use their money for your child with special needs

Sometimes parents will give their special needs child’s share to another, with the hope that that person will use the funds for the special needs child.  Unfortunately, this “solution” won’t help your child if you become incapacitated, or after you are gone.  The “extra” share becomes “their” money, and there is no structure and no accountability for how it is spent.

Mistake #4: Procrastinating

Some mistakes can be more costly than others.  A special needs child won’t have the resources others have to fall back upon.  No one can guarantee another day, so it is important to plan early.

Mistake #5: Preventing others from contributing to the trust

The distinct advantage of creating a specific special needs trust now is that when friends and relatives plan their estate, they can make gifts to the trust.  They don’t have to make any special needs planning, because you have already done so in a way that they can participate and support.

Mistake #6: Failing to protect a special needs child from predators

Giving your special needs child money through a will, even a will that has special needs provisions, gives the public all the information they need about your child and precisely how much money is available.  Because a will goes through probate it is a matter of public record, available for all to see.

Mistake #7: Using a “generic” special needs trust that doesn’t fit

Your child is an individual with unique needs.  Some generic terms for special needs trusts are unnecessarily inflexible.  Sometimes the default language protects eligibility, but doesn’t provide enough flexibility to meet the child’s specific needs.  You’ll want to talk to your estate planning attorney about the kind of services your child is currently receiving and discuss what services they are likely to have in the future.

Tags:Children Special Needs

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Erik Hartstrom

Erik is the founder of Estate Plan Pros, a leading estate planning practice in Elk Grove.  Erik’s practice focuses on Estate Planning Law. In Estate Planning, Erik works with clients to make the process simple, so clients can focus on more important things. He is a local authority for specialized estate planning instruments, like Special Needs Trust, Irrevocable Trusts, or other focused documents. Erik has litigated, negotiated, and mediated the gamut of family law cases. With this unique perspective as a family law and estate attorney he can often spot issues otherwise overlooked. Prior to graduating he worked as a legislative analyst for a non-profit organization, and volunteered as a youth counselor. Erik currently participates in local politics and is an active member of his local church. Erik is very happily married and has two young sons. Together, his family loves to get outdoors and enjoy the varied activities the Sacramento region has to offer.


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