According to the Texas Children’s Policy Council, it is estimated that 9-13% of Texas children have some type of disability. Caring for a special needs child can present unique challenges. While parents generally focus on the day to day ongoing needs of their special needs child, it is equally important for parents to plan for their child’s future. Planning should take into account a parent’s unexpected incapacity or death. Advanced planning can provide peace of mind and ensure that your special needs child will be protected and cared for in a manner consistent with your wishes. Parents should consider the following:
- A Will. By executing a Will, parents can direct that their assets be placed in a Special Needs Trust upon their death while preserving their child’s eligibility for governmental benefits.
- A Special Needs Trust. By creating a Special Needs Trust, parents can fund a trust during life to provide for ongoing financial support while preserving their child’s eligibility for governmental benefits.
- Guardianship. If applicable, parents can obtain guardianship. When your child turns 18, your legal relationship changes and the law presumes that your child is legally able to make critical decisions for himself/herself without regard to your child’s ability to do so. Guardianship allows parents to continue to make decisions for their child in regard to health care, residential placement, education, financial, contractual and other important areas.
- Letter of Intent. Parents can draft a letter of intent which can provide history, instruction and guidance for future caregivers (contains information not addressed in legal documents).
- Successor Guardian . Parents can name a Guardian for their child through their Last Will and Testament or a separate document.
- Team of Specialists. Parents should create a team of specialists and providers to help assist them with their child’s legal, financial and special care needs.
- Obtain Governmental Benefits. If applicable, parents can obtain governmental benefits. A child with a disability may qualify for Social Security, Medicaid and other similar programs based on financial need.