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Estate planning when a child is disabled

Parents of special needs children may wonder how their sons or daughters will be cared for after they pass. Fortunately, there are steps that Florida residents and others can take to make sure that family members with disabilities are accounted for in an estate plan. The first step in the process is to create a letter of intent. In this letter, individuals can provide a list of medications, passwords to financial accounts and anything else that could make caring for a disabled family member easier.

An estate plan should also include a will, trust and power of attorney. The will can help to ensure that money and other assets can be distributed in a timely manner and with as little interference as possible. Special needs trusts can be structured so that a disabled individual can have access to financial resources without jeopardizing his or her government benefits.

A power of attorney can be a narrow or broad as necessary. Ideally, a disabled child will be allowed to manage money or make other decisions if he or she is capable of doing so. Otherwise, the power of attorney document can give a parent or another trusted individual the ability to make all financial and medical decisions for the child. The terms of such a document may remain in effect after a son or daughter becomes a legal adult.

The use of special needs or other trusts may allow a parent to have greater control over how assets are used by future generations. If a child is unable to manage money on his or her own, a trustee might be able to do so on that child's behalf. Ultimately, a son or daughter may have a greater chance of receiving quality care without having to deplete an inheritance.

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  • It is difficult enough to cope with the emotional challenges of closing a parent's estate, and when you are also faced with the issue of your parents having insufficient documentation, and being remote from your siblings… - Zara L.
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  • Mr. Frye recently set up a complicated special needs trust for my son and, as usual, did a great job explaining it and in putting our minds at ease about our son's future well-being. - Dr. Howard
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