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How can I ensure my special needs child is cared for if I die?

Unlike most heirs and beneficiaries, those with special needs will need extra protection upon your death. This is especially important if you are the child's sole provider. However, even those with a spouse or co-parent will want to address these unusual estate planning matters sufficiently in order to make certain the child remains protected and provided for throughout his or her life.

One extremely effective tool many Tennessee parents choose to provide for these vulnerable family members is a special needs trust. Many parents assume that they can simply leave their assets to a child with special needs in a regular will. While this sounds like a good idea, it may actually be harmful to your child's quality of life in the long run. A top benefit of creating a special needs trust to support your will is that it will not disqualify your heir from receiving government benefits such as Medicaid, subsidized housing, vocational rehabilitation and many others.

Even if you feel your child will never need government benefits, a special needs trust is a good idea. With this tool, you can address the specific and unique needs of your loved one, ensuring he or she will receive the exact care and lifestyle that offers the greatest benefits. This remains true whether your special needs child is still growing or is already an adult when you pass away.

A word of caution: While this type of trust is invaluable in the ways it protects and provides for your special needs heirs and beneficiaries, it is crucial to make sure the trust is properly worded. In almost all cases, your child and you will benefit from working closely with a lawyer when creating your trust.

Source: FindLaw, "Special Needs Trusts FAQ’s," accessed Nov. 07, 2016

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