Tips for Planning for Your Autistic Child
Ensuring quality of life for your child with autism requires you to make legal and financial plans. When you hire our firm, we work together to ensure your child will be provided for both now and in the future. There are specific techniques, known as special needs planning, that we use to ensure your child’s needs will be met and he or she will be protected well into the future.
A special needs estate plan can provide security for your child, even when you are no longer able to handle his or her care yourself. The first important part of planning for your special needs child is to consider guardianship. When a minor reaches the age of majority, he or she is legally in charge of all their decisions. This does not change when your child is disabled. In order for you to still be able to make decisions for your disabled child, you will need to consider guardianship.
In Florida, guardian advocacy exists. This is a specific form of guardianship that can assist parents of disabled children. In some ways, it is less restrictive than a formal guardianship. The key is to start by assessing your autistic child. What can he or she do independently? What financial, healthcare or transactional decisions does he or she need ongoing support with as an adult? You can begin by making a list to share with your attorney.
Although a parent can become the guardian for the disabled child after he or she reaches the age of majority, there needs to be a plan in place should something happen to the parents. You need to determine who could be legally in charge of the person with autism in your place. Although this is a difficult reality to face, we need to be as prepared as possible for the future.
As part of our planning, we also need to determine if any benefits are available for the child with autism. This may include Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Depending on how much government assistance your child will receive, you can establish savings and investment goals to help provide additional funds to your loved one. While this money cannot be left to your child outright, or you risk losing government benefits for him or her, you can set up a third-party special needs trust. Through this specific type of trust you can leave money to your child without jeopardizing his or her ability to obtain support from public funding.
Planning for a loved one with autism is extremely important. Even though no plan can ever be perfect, the more organized you are and the better you plan ahead, the better quality of life your disabled child will have. Do you have questions? Do not hesitate to contact our law firm and schedule a meeting with attorney Amy McGarry.