When you have a special needs child who is not going to have the ability to live independently, there are ways to protect an inheritance they are going to receive from you. With careful estate planning, you can leave able-bodied children an inheritance while setting up a trust for your special needs child that can be used to enhance the care they currently receive. If you simply leave property or cash to your special needs child who relies on insurance and disability payments from the government, you risk the loss of these benefits. In order to have a continuity of care and avoid a loss of potential benefits, you'll want to set up a special needs trust instead.
Diving Up Your Assets
As you plan your estate, consider what assets you want to leave to each heir. You can name anyone you want as the beneficiary on life insurance or the co-owner of property or bank accounts. The assets that don't have to go through probate can be left directly to people you name. For heirs that don't rely on Social Security benefits and are independent, they don't have anything to lose when you leave them cash. While you may be tempted to leave each heir the same amount, you can also think about the needs of each heir and their potential for success in the future.
The Special Needs Trust
If you have an adult child that lives in a nursing home and receives full-time care, they don't necessarily need the same inheritance that an able-bodied heir does. You can leave money in a special needs trust, but you must identify that this trust is for supplemental care and not designed to replace any existing support. In this way, your disabled adult heir will benefit from the money, yet won't inherit the money directly. Access to the trust will have set parameters, and it can be used for just about anything that improves the life of your special needs heir.
Estate planning doesn't have to be hard when you want to leave some money to a special needs heir. In order to protect their current benefits and give them additional support, a special needs trust is the answer. Even if your heir lives with a sibling, a trust can be set up to support the special needs heir, while the able-bodied heir receives their inheritance outright.
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