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How to Plan for the Future of Your Autistic Child

If you have a child with autism, planning for the future can be daunting.  Read on to learn how you can best prepare your estate plan to ensure a successful life for your autistic child after you are gone.

Preparing legal documents for your estate can be complicated and even more so if you have a child with autism.  Seek the help of a trusted estate planning attorney to ensure your documents are complete and notify the trustees and your other children about your desires for the future of your autistic child.

When preparing your will, describe exactly how you would like your estate to be distributed and nominate a guardian for your child with autism.  Your living will determines how you want medical decisions to be made if you become unable to make them on your own.  Appoint a trusted friend or family member to serve as your agent in your living will since it is unlikely that your autistic child will be able to make medical decisions for you.

One of the most critical estate planning documents for parents of children with autism is the special needs trust.  Enlist the help of your estate planning attorney to set up a trust which allows you to appoint a trustee to manage money after you are gone.  It is important to work with an experienced attorney because he or she will ensure that the trust does not negatively affect your autistic child’s SSI or SSD, or other needs based benefits.  The special needs trust can either be a testamentary trust which is established in the parent’s will which goes into effect at the death of a parent, or in a living trust, which is effective upon signing.  The latter is often useful if grandparents or other relatives and friends want to contribute to the trust of the autistic child during the lifetime of the child’s parents.

Remember to revisit your estate plan every 5 years or after any major life events in order to ensure that your documents are still functioning in the way you need them to.

To discuss your specific needs with one of our estate planning attorneys, please call us at Fingeret Law at 412-254-8533 or contact us online.