According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today. This means there are many children out there whose families should consider estate planning such as Special Needs Trusts.
After a diagnosis, the health provider usually recommends that your child immediately begin therapy. Therapies include: speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and ABA therapy. This was the case for my family, at least. My daughter was diagnosed by the AARTS center at Rush University Medical Center one month after her second birthday.
Unsuprisingly, the costs associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be strenuous for families to manage. Families with a child with ASD may be able to apply for public benefits, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). A Special Needs Trust can help protect those benefits.
Will Governmental benefits be affected?
Above all, we, as parents, want our children to be happy. We also desparately want our children to have long-term financial stability. Many parents whose children have ASD often struggle with how to accomplish this…happiness and financial stability. Oftentimes, parents incorrectly believe the best way to accomplish this is to leave money to their children using a Will, a life insurance policy, or via a retirement account.
But, leaving money directly to your child could disqualify him or her from receiving much-needed governmental benefits.
The Solution: A Special Needs Trust
Under the terms of a Special Needs Trust, you are able to select a Trustee to manage the trust property. The Trustee would also ensure that the funds remain as a long-term source of money for the child. The Trustee has some discretion to distribute trust assets to (or on behalf of) the child.
As a result of a Special Needs Trust, Medicaid and SSI benefits can continue to cover the basics. This is so trust assets can be used to provide the child with the “extras” that enhance quality of life. Such an “extra” that comes to mind is being able to take that precious child on a vacation to their favorite place. Accordingly, we hope to educate more people regarding Autism and Special Needs Trusts.
Advantages of Special Needs Trusts
Advantages of Special Needs Trusts include:
- Substantial gifts paid into the trust;
- No interruption to your child’s benefits;
- Funds earmarked for your child’s care can also be transferred to the trust (after the transfer, they will be treated as separate assets); and
- You can select a responsible and dedicated Trustee (then successor Trustees) to manage the trust.
Two main types of Special Needs Trusts
- First Party Special Needs Trusts (this is a self-settled or Medicaid Payback Trust); and
- Third Party Special Needs Trusts.
Don’t try to figure this out on your own.
It is April and that means it is Autism Awareness Month. Contact our office today by clicking HERE to schedule your free 90-minute consultation to learn more about Autism and Special Needs Trusts.