Your autistic child requires careful estate and trust planning

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2017 | Estate Planning

Parents typically want to provide for a comfortable and safe future for their children. This is often a significant factor in why individuals create an estate plan or last will well before they expect to pass on. That way, in case of a sudden medical event or accident, your family will be protected.

When your child has autism, it is even more important to take steps to protect him or her after you pass. Although autism is a spectrum, a substantial number of children who have autism will continue to need special care and guidance throughout their adult life. This knowledge can weight heavily on parents.

Unless you take special steps, like the creation of a special needs trust, your autistic child could lose out on his or her inheritance if other family members contest your last will or estate plan. Autistic individuals often miss social cues and may fail to comprehend the significance of such an action.

Your child may not realize until it is too late that actions by non-parental family members aren’t always in his or her best interests. The best way to ensure that your assets are available for the safety and care of your autistic child in the future is to hire an estate attorney to create a special needs trust.

The benefits of a special needs trust

There are a number of benefits in having assets placed in a special needs trust. First and foremost, unless an individual is a trustee, he or she will not have any right to access assets placed in the trust. Unlike a last will or estate plan, heirs cannot simply contest a trust in court. Even if it were to go to court, chances are that the court would take a dim view of any other heir or family member attempting to access funds set aside for the care of an autistic child or adult.

Beyond that, placing assets into a trust can also offer financial benefits, such as reduction of tax risks for your autistic child.

A special needs trust can have specific requirements set for the use of funds. That will prevent the trustee or your child from using up the assets on frivolous things. Instead, you can specifically stipulate that funds can only be used for medical and cost of living expenses. You can even place financial and time limits on withdrawals to ensure that the cost of living isn’t being abused by a trustee with inflated expectations. Finally, you can name more than one trustee to administer the special needs trust, helping to ensure there are checks and balances in place to protect your autistic child.

An attorney can help create a special needs trust

Any trust created in Colorado must meet specific legal requirements, although these have been relaxed in recent years. There are limits on certain assets, while others, like household furnishings, no longer have a financial limit. Working with an experienced probate and estate attorney is the best way to ensure that your special needs trust is legally sound. Creating an estate plan that includes a special needs trust for your autistic child can provide peace of mind and give your child future security.