How do families make estate plans for people with special needs?

| Jun 5, 2019 | Estate Planning

One memoir by the mother of a child with special needs likened the experience to planning a trip to France and going to Italy instead. Anyone with a family member with special needs can report that the point of this statement is true: It may be surprising, but it is still magical.

What are some of the concerns that people have with planning for people with special needs?

Many adults and children who are diagnosed as autistic, mentally challenged or otherwise having mental special needs may not be able to manage common schoolwork, home requirements or financial affairs like bank accounts or investing. As a result, many people with special needs have a court-appointed conservator to manage these affairs on a person’s behalf.

What sort of financial planning might people with special needs require?

Trusts may need to be set up to be sure a person has income to cover their care. If a conservator is actively tending to a person’s care, their own financial planning should include plans to hand over those responsibilities in case the conserved person survives him or her.

How can people start making these plans?

A letter of intent is a good start. It allows a person to outline the best practices and think about who the best person or party is. It also may help show legal intent if a case is being adjudicated in probate court.

Is a letter of intent enough?

The letter itself has no legal standing in probate court. An attorney can help families and conservator weigh their estate planning options.