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Estate planning for parents with special needs children

It can be nerve-wracking for parents to send their adult children out into the world to fend for themselves. However, when parents have special needs children, sometimes they never let them go in this fashion because the children are unable to live independently on their own. Texas parents whose children are either developmentally or intellectually disabled may have some very unique estate planning challenges that need to be addressed.

A lot of parents who have special needs kids choose to care for their children themselves, independently from various social services programs. Whether it is because these parents do not trust the government help or the programs simply do not provide the kind of services their children require, these parents prefer to care for their kids on their own. Nevertheless, what happens to these children when their parents die?

Right now, there is a 10-year waiting list for special needs children to gain access to community-based care programs. A parent’s death or medical emergency can serve to put a child on a priority list to expedite the process of getting him or her into a care home. Still, it is important that special needs parents set up a Medical Power of Attorney and a Durable Financial Power of Attorney as a part of their estate planning. Also, a Living Will, a Declaration of Guardian and HIPPAA Authorization will be important. For children who do not have the ability to follow advance directives, it is vital to establish a decision-making guardian to oversee the designated individual's care in the event of a parent’s death.

Finalizing one’s estate planning now rather than later is vital for every Texas parent. However, it is even more important for parents of special needs children. There are some decisions -- like matters of guardianship and other plans for the care of one’s child -- that are better made by the parent now rather than leaving them up to the courts to decide.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Elder Law: Special-needs adult children need a plan for their future", Wesley E. Wright and Molly Dear Abshire, Aug. 19, 2014

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Elder Law: Special-needs adult children need a plan for their future", Wesley E. Wright and Molly Dear Abshire, Aug. 19, 2014

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