A special needs trust can protect your autistic child

Being a parent is a nerve-wracking pursuit. This is especially true for those who have special needs children in their lives. There are many considerations involved with parenting a special needs child that the average parent will never need to consider. Children with special needs are more likely than their peers to suffer abuse. They may struggle academically as well.

With the high rates of autism diagnoses affecting one in 68 children, more parents than every before must face the dilemma long known to special needs parents. How can you ensure your child receives adequate care and support when you are no longer there to advocate on behalf of your autistic child? For many families, a special needs trust is the ideal means of protecting an autistic family member.

The downfalls of a traditional will in special needs families

When there's a special needs family member, creating a last will or estate plan may not do enough to protect that vulnerable loved one. People with autism may have serious co-morbid conditions that impact their mobility or ability to work. Other autistic adults may struggle to manage household needs, like paying bills. Simply leaving a portion of your assets to your autistic child may not be enough. He or she could wind up without support or finances in the future.

Similarly, just naming a guardian won't truly remedy those issues. Caregivers and guardians could very well waste or steal some of the assets you intended for the care of your child. A trust helps eliminate these issues by ensuring that assets may get used only in very specific situations.

A trust helps ensure there's financial and social support

Your autistic loved one won't just need some money to pay bills after your death. He or she will need other people actively involved. Naming one or more people that you believe have the love and patience your child requires as trustee can make all the difference. Having someone to turn to in situations that feel overwhelming or frightening can help make your autistic loved one happier and safer after your passing.

Naming multiple trustees also helps to ensure that there is a form of internal accountability for handling assets from the trust. That can protect your loved one from dissipation of the funds he or she could rely on as the primary source of financial support for adulthood.

Finally, a special needs trust limits the implications of your assets on your autistic child's taxes or government aid. Receiving a large inheritance could result in having too many assets for many state aid programs while not being enough to ensure a decent standard of living without those supports. Keeping those assets in a trust helps provide supplement financial support and income for your child.

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