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How to provide for a disabled child in an estate plan

Medical advances have allowed many children in Texas with significant disabilities to grow into adults. While they have increased lifespans, many will never be able to live independently and remain dependent on their parents. Parents of disabled adult children must arrange to provide care for their children in the event they outlive them.

Protecting your disabled child’s assets

As your disabled child ages, you still want them to be able to access government benefits like Supplemental Security Income, which provides guaranteed income, plus other programs such as Medicaid. However, having an income from an estate can negate eligibility for those essential programs. The best way to ensure access is to learn how to provide for a disabled child in an estate plan.

Setting up a special needs trust for your adult child is vital. You can start with any amount of money, as there is no minimum requirement, and slowly add to it. Another helpful tool you can pair with a special needs trust is an Achieving a Better Life Experience account. Your trustee can move money from the trust into the ABLE account, allowing your child to use it for any qualified disability expense. The child can manage the account independently, but you can also specify spending rules, allowing for some autonomy.

Creating your estate plan

When dealing with the possibility of a disabled child outliving you, consider developing your estate plan as soon as possible. You’ll need to name a trustee for the special needs trust and should include your adult child as much as possible in the process to make sure that the estate plan meets their needs and wishes. Include a letter of intent or guidance and update it every two years. This document is essential if your child has difficulty communicating, as it can outline their preferences, caregivers, medical providers and others who are a good fit for your child.

Remember that you can add to and update your estate plan anytime. Periodic review is essential to ensure the plan meets your wishes and continues to provide for your child.