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Siblings Have a Unique Role in Families with Special Needs

July 16th, 2012

When a family has a child with a special need, that child understandably needs the support of the whole family, and much of the family’s resources – time, money, and emotional strength – are devoted to caring for their loved one with special needs.  When that child has a sibling, the parents also need to consider the sibling’s unique position.

Siblings of  children with special needs develop compassion and understanding beyond their years and they learn the importance of a truly loving, caring family.  Parents also know that caring for a child with special needs takes an emotional toll, not only on themselves, but on the child’s sibling as well.

In planning for the future, an important thing for parents to consider is that the sibling or siblings of their child with special needs will likely have a role as a caregiver, probably for longer than the parents themselves.  There are steps parents can take to help make that transition as smooth as possible.

Creating a special needs trust is an important way to protect your child’s financial future, by setting aside assets for enhancing quality of life, while protecting the right to public benefits.  A sibling is an ideal co-trustee or successor trustee for a special needs trust.

If your child will need a guardian once she reaches adulthood, it is important to establish guardianship and to plan for who will be her guardian after you pass away.

Parents should also consider drafting a letter of intent.  This document spells out in detail your wishes for the care of your child after you pass away, including medical care, your child’s unique likes and dislikes, and living arrangements.  This can be of great benefit to a sibling who will be a caregiver for a person with special needs.

For assistance with questions regarding your child’s special needs visit our website at http://www.specialneedsnewyork.com/.

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This article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon. If you need legal advice concerning this or any other topic please contact our offices to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys at 914-684-2100 or 212-490-2020.