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NY Estate Planning for Parents of Children with Special Needs

New York Estate Planning is more than preparing a will.

All parents worry about their children’s future. For the parents of children with special needs, though, there are extra concerns. Financial security probably tops the list, but if your child will be unable to live independently or to make important decisions, planning for her daily network of support should also become a key part of your estate plan. Guardianship and a letter of intent, with instructions for caregivers, will be just as important as access to funds.

A letter of intent should provide the foundation for any estate plan involving a child with special needs. It’s a compilation of medical, legal, financial, and personal information concerning your loved one, intended to provide caretakers with the detail needed to manage daily routines. No one will be able to replace you, but knowing about prescriptions, a favorite food, or that your child can handle zippers but not buttons will help to minimize disruption. This document should be updated on a regular basis.

In preparing your will, you should take great care as you consider candidates for guardianship. That all-important responsibility should be vested in someone who is willing and able to spend the time needed to manage the many support services that may be essential to your child and to advocate for, and monitor, the public benefits that may be key to her medical and financial welfare.

Because your child’s ongoing eligibility for government benefits is determined by her personal assets, special attention must be paid when setting aside funds for her care. A special needs trust – also referred to as a supplemental needs trust – should be established to handle expenditures not covered by entitlement programs and for discretionary expenses, such as vacations, concerts, or a personal computer. The money can be used during your lifetime or set aside for future use and will not affect your child’s public benefits.

A thoughtfully constructed estate plan can make an enormous difference to your child’s quality of life when you are no longer around to nurture her.

Contact our New York special needs planning attorneys today to schedule an estate planning consultation designed to ensure continuation of care and financial security for your loved one with special needs.

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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.