May 26, 2024
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Your Will Can Protect Your Children With Disabilities

(Courtesy of Haas & Zaltz) August signifies National Make-a-Will Month. For the one in five families who care for children with special needs, estate planning is crucial.

Parents of a child with a disability face numerous challenges and concerns. One 2022 study found that  among these parents’ biggest worries is what will happen to their children if they, as the disabled children’s primary caretakers, get sick and can no longer provide their care and support. Another survey revealed that 69 percent of special needs families expressed fear about providing lifetime assistance to their disabled dependents.

Making a will and other important estate planning documents are among the steps you can take to help alleviate these concerns. A well-drafted estate plan can help ensure that your loved one with special needs has financial protection and continued support.

 

Barriers to Estate Planning

Creating a will is an integral part of planning for the future. Yet according to Caring.com’s 2023 Wills and Estate Planning Survey, two out of three Americans have no will or estate planning document.

Some respondents to this survey reported that they do not have enough assets to leave behind. Others cited procrastination as the reason for avoiding estate planning. Still others expressed confusion about how to make a will.

 

Don’t Delay Making a Will

Forty-one percent of survey participants indicated that they would delay making a will until they experienced a problematic health diagnosis or concern. However, you may be putting your loved one with special needs at great risk if you delay making a will.

Avoid waiting until your health, or the health of your loved one with special needs, worsens. Having a will and estate plan in place ahead of time can make navigating health challenges easier. If you prepare for the future, you won’t have to rush to make arrangements or risk passing away without a will.

 

Power of Attorney

As part of your estate plan, you also execute a power of attorney (POA). This legal document allows you to designate someone to make decisions for you if you cannot do so.

You may, for example, become unable to handle your own affairs due to unexpected circumstances, such as serious illness or injury. In this case, the individual you named in the power of attorney may have to step in. They might manage financial support for your loved one with disabilities, making financial transactions on your behalf. You would therefore want to appoint someone you trust implicitly to serve in this role.

For someone with a disability, having a power of attorney in place can help preserve their autonomy. Imagine that you face an adverse health event and there is no power of attorney in place. The court may need to appoint a guardian to make decisions for your loved one.

Note that individuals with medical needs can also name a health care power of attorney. This appointee is someone who can represent their best interests when It comes to medical care.

 

Guardianship: Selecting Someone To Care for Your Child

In addition to creating a will, you also may wish to name someone to become your child’s guardian. You can determine who will care for your child, and you should ensure that your child’s guardian is someone you trust.

 

Special Needs Trust

While a will is a basic estate planning document that can help you provide for your loved one with special needs after your demise, a trust can also protect their assets. Making a special needs trust includes appointing a responsible individual to act as the trustee.

The trust can pay for things public benefits do not cover, such as recreation and education. At the same time, a trust preserves your loved one’s ability to qualify for public benefits. Setting up a special needs trust can also ensure that they receive continued support during their lifetime.

 

Contact a Special Needs Planning Attorney

Make-a-Will Month is an important reminder to take steps toward securing your loved one’s future. Work with an estate planning professional to create a plan that protects your loved ones with disabilities into the future.

In addition to helping you create a will, a qualified attorney can assist you with making a comprehensive estate plan. This could include executing power of attorney documents and setting up a special needs trust for your loved one. Contact one of our special needs planning attorneys today.

To learn how to protect you and your family, visit www.haaszaltz.com or call 845-425-3900.  You can also email them at [email protected].

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