WLG On Our Mind

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Planning for Adult and Minor Special Needs Children

Parenting isn’t always easy, and it’s even less so when your child has a disability. We all have dreams of our children reaching full independence, but sometimes, this just isn’t possible. Our children may have needs that go beyond what others require, special needs that demand specific planning in order to make sure that the child is well looked after once the parents are gone.

In a nutshell, special needs planning in San Diego is the legal and financial plan to take care of a child, often an adult child, whose disabilities require that they have scaffolding in place to live a full, healthy life. These children may have physical, mental, or both types of needs that require additional care. As adults, these children may not be able to live on their own or gain employment, for example, and will need a comprehensive plan in place to assure a secure future.

Special needs planning is something every parent of a child with disabilities must individually consider, as a “one-size-fits-all” approach is not likely to work. Public benefits preservation may or may not be a critical part of the plan for any particular person with disabilities. For others, establishing or preserving access to some of the unique services available only through public programs is essential. For example, a child may be in a wheelchair, but otherwise able to care for him or herself. This child may have great prospects, and as such, the plan may be relatively simple. There will be no need, say, for a conservatorship of this adult child, as he or she is mentally fit to handle his or her own affairs and should be able to find gainful employment.

In other cases, however, the child may not be able to handle all of the details of adult life. Securing safe housing, paying bills, finding employment, and other needs may be beyond the scope of the child’s capabilities. In cases like these, an estate planning attorney with experience planning in special needs planning can help the parents to formally define who will have control over the child’s assets and freedoms once the parents have passed away. A plan can also be put into place to safeguard a trust fund for the child to ensure a high quality of life. These plans utilizing what are know as supplemental needs trusts or special needs trusts can be designed with checks and balances to insure that the disabled child is protected and which reduce the burdens on other family members.
Another important aspect of special needs planning is determining the transition plan once the child reaches adulthood. Some adults with special needs remain with their families; others move into group housing for adults who need extra care, others can live independently with assistance. Any one of these choices may be right for your family, but determining what the future will hold for your child, and who gets to “call the shots” when you are gone, is a critical component of special needs planning.

An experienced estate planning attorney can also help assist you in determining exactly what your child may need in the future to ensure proper quality of care. Likewise, by formalizing the details of who will have responsibility for your child and how their finances will be maintained, you can eliminate a lot of stress after you have passed away. In some families everyone is too busy or scattered to be interested in helping; other families have people lining up to take care of their disabled family member, but either way, having these details determined in advance is your best bet for taking care of your special needs child over the long haul.

We, at the Weissler Law Group, are experienced in working with parents and siblings of individuals with special needs.  We are located in San Diego, California, close to Mission Valley Mall and Qualcomm Stadium.  Our goal is to help you help your family member get the help they needed to live well while minimizing the efforts required of other family members. Every week we work with families to preserve assets so that they can be used to improve family member’s quality of life instead of being dissipated by expense which could otherwise be paid for by public entitlement and benefit programs. For more information and help in providing for a disabled family member, call the Weissler Law Group at (619) 281-1888 to set a time to speak with an attorney with the answers and advise you need.

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The Attorneys of the Weissler Law Group assist clients in San Diego, California as well as in: Coronado, Pacific Beach, Del Mar, Solana Beach, La Jolla, Del Cerro, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Santee, El Cajon, Rancho Bernardo, Poway, Escondido, National City, Spring Valley, and Chula Vista.

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