Estate planning for a child with severe learning disabilities requires special approaches. Use this list as a starting point.
Special Needs: A Letter of Intent
Carefully consider what kind of life you would like for your child.
Create a letter of intent for future caregivers stating your desires.
Include your child’s medical history and personal care needs.
Share this document with family members and friends you trust.
Regularly review this letter and update it as needed.
Learn about Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.
See if inheritance will keep your child from being eligible.
Look into setting up a special needs trust through an experienced attorney.
Make sure anyone leaving your child money directs it to the trust.
Decide whether to create the trust while you’re living or as a part of your will.
Find out how different types of special needs trusts will affect your taxes.
Select an informed trustee—an individual or financial institution, or both.
Carefully discuss with a qualified attorney any trust you set up.
Special Needs Estate Planning Attorneys
Look for an attorney with expertise in special needs estate planning.
Get referrals from local disability organizations, advocacy agencies, and parents.
Interview special needs attorneys before deciding which to choose.
Guardianship and Conservatorship
If appropriate, apply for guardianship or conservatorship for a child over age 18.
Start early. In some states, this can take up to a year to process.
Consult with an attorney for alternatives to guardianship.