When your child turns 18 years of age, he or she is an adult. However, when your child has special needs, being a legal adult doesn’t mean that he or she can take care of his or her own financial, medical, and other personal needs. In this situation, you may have to take certain steps to ensure that you have the authority to protect your adult special needs child and provide for him or her in the future.
The first step may be to get guardianship and/or conservatorship over the adult child. Guardianships allow a parent or other caregiver to make medical, educational, and other person decisions for incapacitated persons. Likewise, conservatorships allow a parent or other suitable person to handle the protected person’s financial affairs. This is particularly important if the child qualifies for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits as an adult. The adult child’s parent often serves as the representative payee for the child’s SSI benefits, both during the child’s minority and after he or she becomes an adult, so long as the Social Security Administration has proof that an individual receiving benefits is incapacitated. If the child has any other assets, however, then the parent needs to have conservatorship over the child when he or she becomes an adult in order to manage those assets on behalf of the child.
Next, you may want to consider how you can provide for your adult child’s needs in case of your own death or incapacity. You can set up a support trust, which allows the designated trustee to expend funds for the child’s food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. However, a support trust will make the child ineligible for SSI and Medicaid, which is a definite disincentive if your child needs that financial support and medical care.
Another alternative is the special needs trust. This estate planning mechanism allows you to manage and safeguard assets for the child without endangering the child’s eligibility for SSI or Medicaid. You can fund the trust through periodic deposits of funds, life insurance proceeds, or resources that may belong to the child, such as a personal injury lawsuit settlement.
The Ann Arbor special needs planning lawyers of Legacy Law Center are experienced in ensuring that you have the comprehensive and up-to-date estate plan in place that incorporates your family business. We are your trusted advisors who are skilled in looking at all facets of your life, evaluating your needs, and working collaboratively with you and your family to create a sound and effective estate plan. Contact Legacy Law Center today and learn how we can help you make the right decisions for you and your family.
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