More than 20 million American families are raising a child with special needs and the number continues to increase. More than $13 billion a year is spent to care for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other special needs. For the average affected family, this translates to $30K per year. Fortunately, there are many ways to plan for the long-term care of a disabled child, including:
- : A Special Needs Trust is a vehicle that provides assets from which a disabled person can maintain his or her quality of life, while still remaining eligible for needs-based programs that will cover basic health and living expenses. Special Needs Trusts fall generally into two main categories: Third-Party SNTs that one person creates and funds for the benefit of someone else, and First-Party SNTs (also called d4a trusts) that are created for the person with special needs using that person’s own money.
- Guardianship and Conservatorship: Parents don’t remain legal guardians of their children forever, unless they take special action to do so. In Virginia, at age 18, parents must petition the court to become legal guardian and conservator of their special needs child, unless the child is capable of making his or her own sound decisions, in which case it is usually better to allow the child to sign his or her own Incapacity Planning documents, including a General Power of Attorney and an Advance Medical Directive.
If you have a special needs child who will likely need care for life, it’s important to provide legal protections for your child. The Fairfax Special Needs Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. can guide you through this process. Be sure to check out our dedicated Special Needs Website at http://VirginiaSpecialNeeds.com. If you have a loved one with special needs, call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation.