New Jersey Estate Planning Attorneys Discuss Issues Affecting Parents of Special Needs Children

Parents of children who have disabilities face unique challenges, such as the need for financial planning and medical care to meet their child’s special needs. While disabilities can take different forms and vary in type and severity, parents of special needs children might want to consult with an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney to ensure that their special needs child is protected if their parent should become incapacitated or pass away.

The nature of the estate planning considerations when someone is the parent of a disabled child depends on the extent and type of disability. When a child has a health-related disorder or physical disability, it might not have any impact on the child’s ability to manage his or her financial affairs. If your child’s financial independence is, impacted by the disability, then parents should consider whether their child may need government benefits like SSI, Medicaid, subsidized housing, and/or assistance of a caregiver. Parents who anticipate that their child might need benefits from the state or federal government should obtain legal advice from a New Jersey special needs estate planning attorney. The lawyer can help structure the financial assistance provided by the parent so that it does not interfere with the disabled child’s ability to qualify for government benefits.

When a child does not need or cannot qualify for government benefits, a parent may leave their assets to the child as they would for a non-disabled child through a will, trust, or both. However, many special needs children will have a lower earning capacity because of their physical limitations, so it might be advisable to take this into consideration when determining how to assess who should inherit what portion of your assets. An estate planning attorney can discuss these issues with you and provide legal guidance about strategies to address these concerns.

If a child has cognitive disabilities, careful estate planning might be needed to provide for and protect the child after you die. When a child suffers from mental illness or cognitive developmental disabilities, the child’s ability to manage his or her financial affairs is more likely to be compromised. The child will often qualify for government benefits and have an increased level of financial need. Many times a trust can be established with a trustee appointed to manage the assets in the trust and distributions for the child. The trust can both avoid disqualification for government benefits and protect the disabled child from those who might exploit the child’s cognitive disabilities.

If you are the parent of a special needs child, we understand the concerns you may have about ensuring the highest quality of life for your child and protecting your child from potential exploitation. We are one of the most experienced and accomplished estate planning law firms in New Jersey with more than 30 years of experience. If you are considering estate planning options in NJ or NY, we invite you to call us now at (201) 690-1642 to set up a consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney in New Jersey or New York City.


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