Russ Cook & Associates, PC

Study reveals gaps in parents' plans for special needs children

Every parent has a lot to worry about when it comes to their children, whether it's their health and nutrition or their ambitions for the future. In all this congestion of concern, it can be easy to overlook certain planning tools that can provide critical safety nets, like estate plans.

Having an estate plan is vital in protecting the care and resources your child will receive after parents pass away. Unfortunately, many parents do not have any such plan in place. This includes fewer than half of parents of special needs children, according to a recent study.

Children with developmental and intellectual disabilities typically have unique needs in terms of care, financial assistance and living requirements. Parents are often equipped to fulfill these needs, but less than 50 percent of them have a comprehensive plan for the child's care if they cannot provide it themselves.

The study was small, but it revealed big gaps in planning. Over 12 percent of the respondents admitted that they had not completed any of the 11 planning actions specified in the survey. One of those actions was setting up a special needs trust.

A special needs trust can be valuable for a number of reasons. For instance, it can protect any government benefits your child might be receiving by ensuring the property in a trust does not effectively disqualify him or her from certain housing and financial benefits. A special needs trust can also ensure your child receives specific care and services.

Parents of children with special needs do face some unique and frustrating obstacles when it comes to estate planning, but that should not deter you from talking to an attorney about your options. There are steps you can take to ensure your child has the care he or she needs, even when you cannot provide this care yourself. 

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