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Four Tips for Estate Planning When Your Child Has a Disability

By Attorney Mary Hilger

Be realistic and create your plan – Planning for your future is vital when you have a child with a disability. Creating an estate plan will give you peace of mind and comfort in case something happens to you or your child’s caretaker. The first step in creating a plan is collecting all of the documentation about your child and organizing it in one place. The information you may need to collect and organize may include but is not limited to:

medical documentation

medical providers and history

insurance, including login information

financial information

other items someone may need to care for your child

Create a Trust for your disabled child– A Special Needs Trust allows you to shelter funds or property for your disabled child that will not affect your child’s government benefits. Most benefits, including Social Security and Medicaid, require that an individual have less than $2,000 in their bank account.

Ensure assets are ONLY going to your child’s Trust–After you have set up your child’s Special Needs Trust, you must update your will or create a will, so any assets intended to go to your disabled child are directed into their Special Needs Trust. If you have any life insurance policies, retirement plans, or other assets with a beneficiary, the child’s Trust should be listed as the beneficiary. A child receiving public assistance or disability benefits could lose those benefits if they inherit property or large sums of money in their name.

Connect with an Attorney and with resources in your area– Working with an attorney familiar with disability law will ensure your child’s needs and assets will be protected. The law is particular as it pertains to disability law. Online will or trust templates often neglect to include the language needed to ensure your child’s benefits are secure. An attorney can help you collect and organize a plan for your child. Your attorney can also connect you with support groups and families in your area who have disabled children in their care.

The experienced estate planning attorneys at Thacker Sleight are ready to help you put your estate plan in motion toward peace of mind for you and your child.

Thacker Sleight

grand rapids office  •  616 888 3810
601 5th street nw, suite 210
grand rapids michigan 49504

grand haven office  •  616 888 3810

saugatuck office  •  269 857 9120

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