If you are the parent of a minor or adult child with a disability, you worry about how your child will be supported in a reasonable and comfortable manner after your death. It is up to you to deploy a financial safety net. Your child’s financial safety net must take into account the nature and extent of your child’s disability, and must be responsive to your child’s special needs. Understandably, there is no one-size-fits-all financial safety net.
Your child may be labeled as being on the autistic spectrum, or as having Asperger’s syndrome, mental illness, Down’s syndrome, a chromosomal disorder, or any of a thousand other diagnoses. The label will not dictate the legal structure of your child’s financial safety net. That financial safety net should be formulated around your child’s specific circumstances and needs.
The proper legal structure for your child’s financial safety net often involves the use of a trust. For a high functioning child with a disability where predators are the foremost concern, an asset protection trust may be used to guard your child’s inheritance from creditors, predators, or a divorcing spouse. For a child with more profound disabilities, a Special Needs Trust (a/k/a Supplemental Needs Trust) may be necessary in order to preserve your child’s eligibility for federal and state benefits, while providing resources to fill the many gaps left behind by the patchwork of public benefits. The specifics of the legal structure will depend on your child’s individual circumstances.
Jim Funnell volunteers his professional time to assist PLAN of Connecticut (www.planofct.org), a charitable organization that administers trusts for individuals with disabilities. He has been volunteering for PLAN since 1992, and currently serves as the Chairman of PLAN’s Trust Committee.
Jim’s more than two decades of experience in the practice of estate planning for persons with varied disabilities has left him uniquely situated to guide you in planning for your children.
For additional information, please download our memorandum entitled A Financial Safety Net For A Child With A Disability