Mullen and Iannarone, P.C.
Serving the legal needs of corporations, individuals and
families of Suffolk County since 1972

Estate planning and special needs children

New York parents dealing with a special needs child may recognize that there will be life-long challenges in caring for that individual. One of the greatest worries in this situation may be how to ensure that the child will continue to have the care needed after both parents are gone. While some parents rely on their other children to help in such situations, life changes could interfere. Sound estate planning can be helpful for addressing these concerns.

Finances are important, and in some cases, errors can have devastating consequences in terms of government benefits available to a person with special needs. A parent may want to select a trusted friend or family member to oversee a trust on behalf of their child, but it may be better to select an estate planning professional with understanding of these matters to prevent costly errors. It is also wise to weigh the tax implications in certain types of trusts.

A life insurance policy might be used to fund a special needs trust independently of trusts designed for management of a parental estate. Parents might also encourage other family members to contribute to a special needs trust as they are able. Handling this type of trust through a will is not advisable because of potential publicity. Those with special needs can be susceptible to the financial schemes of others, and limiting public information is an important protective measure.

An estate planning lawyer may be able to help parents address various family concerns related to their end-of-life planning. In addition to considering special needs individuals, parents may want to protect certain assets from loss in case of heirs going through serious life events such as a divorce. There may also be concerns about unequal distribution of assets based on the life circumstances of some children. Professional insight and recommendations may help in resolving these matters diplomatically.

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