The Holy Trinity (of documents needed for your special needs child)

Ok people! There are three documents out there that EVERY parent of a special needs child needs to have in place; A Special Needs Trust, A Guardianship Nomination (done in your will or trust), and A Letter of Intent.  So what are these documents and why do I need them?

1. A Special Needs Trust – a 3rd Person Special Needs Trust, funded either while you are alive or by your assets at death, is a trust that holds assets for the benefit of your disabled child without disqualifying them from SSI, SSD, and Medicaid.

2. A Guardianship Nomination – Your will or trust should include a guardianship nomination for all of your minor children. Remember, when your child turns 18, they are now an adult, even if they disabled and do not have a the mental capacity to care for themselves either physically or mentally.  It is essential that you take the time to nominate a guardian for your disabled child so that their life routine is not disrupted.  While not binding, the person you nominate as guardian will typically be given preference by the Court.

3. A Letter of Intent – This is basically a snap shot of your child.  It should include information about your child’s routines, preferences, medical history, allergies, interests, etc.  The purpose of the letter is so your child’s next caregiver will know as much about your child as possible.  This will make sure that their needs and wants are met and that their routine is uninterrupted.

Remember, the name of the game in estate planning is smoothness.  The idea is that your child’s transition to a new caregiver when you pass away is as smooth as possible.  We all know how important routine and predictability is to many special needs adults and children.  Having these documents will make life easier for everyone involved, especially your child.


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