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Can you protect your autistic child with a special needs trust?

Having an autistic child can change many of your plans for life. Decisions about everything from where you live to how you approach family meals may have to change. Once you adjust your expectations for the needs of your child, living with an autistic son or daughter can be a beautiful thing.

However, unlike neurotypical children, autistic children will often require support from their parents or guardians for their entire lives. That can make creating a Will or an estate plan more complicated. Thankfully, a special needs trust can help give you the peace of mind you need and your child the protection he or she deserves.

Special needs trusts ensure your child has benefits available and financial resources

For the average child, receiving a lump sum inheritance can be a wonderful thing. That money can pay off a mortgage or finance a college education. For autistic children, a lump sum inheritance can be more complicated. First of all, they may not have the capacity to manage the money properly. That could result in an abrupt loss of those financial resources.

Secondly, as someone with special needs, your autistic child is at increased risk of emotional, physical and financial abuse. If your child has control over a large amount of money, that could be incentive for an abuser to prey on your child.

Finally, a large inheritance could mean that your child will no longer receive Medicaid benefits or similar state support. If your child has to live in a group home or another care facility, everything you leave behind could end up paying for that care.

With a special needs trust, you get to name someone responsible and trustworthy as the Trustee. You can also place limitations on how much your child can withdraw at one time or how funds from the trust may be used. Additionally, with limits to the amount used in a year, you can ensure that your child continues to qualify for Medicaid or other benefits that he or she relies on for living expenses and support.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about special needs trusts or any estate planning issue, contact one of our estate planning attorneys at 814-833-222. 

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