How Will a Special Needs Trust Help My Autistic Child?

With the CDC estimating that the prevalence of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has increased by almost 10 percent, it is time to address the needs of this segment of the population from a financial as well as a healthcare perspective. If you have a child with ASD, you are far from alone. As a matter of fact, 1 in 54 children in the U.S. are presently diagnosed with the disorder. While many of these children are leading pleasurable and productive lives, almost all of them require special accommodations in order to be comfortable in school, in social situations, and even at home.
As the parent of a child with ASD, though you share similar logistical and estate planning issues with a great many others, your situation is also unique. There are so many variations of the disorder that it is difficult to make comparisons. Where one child on the autism spectrum may be not only intellectually challenged but unable to speak, another may be highly intelligent and articulate. Where one may be generally subdued and withdrawn, another may be prone to violent outbursts. No matter how your child is affected, you want what’s best for him/her now and in the future.

Why I Need a Special Needs Trust for My Autistic Child

Though you may be financially well-established and able to provide your child with all the services she/he requires at the present time, as a loving parent you must consider the years to come. In the natural order of things, you will become less capable and possibly incapacitated during your child’s lifetime, and you will probably predecease him/her. 
The last thing in the world you want is to imagine your child living a diminished lifestyle in which his/her needs are not met. Now is the time to prepare for your child’s future by creating a special needs trust with the help of a highly competent trust attorney like Brian Chew of OC Wills & Trusts Attorneys. With the help of his comprehensive knowledge and superior skills, he will be able to craft, review, and file all of the appropriate paperwork to protect your child.

How a Special Needs Trusts Will Help My Autistic Child

Special needs trusts are designed for situations like yours, in which a family member requires some types of special care throughout her/his adult years. Rather than leaving to chance who will step in when you are unable to provide that care, you should be proactive in creating a special needs trust under the counsel of an experienced trust attorney.
When you create a special needs trust, instead of leaving property directly to your loved one, you leave it to the special needs trust that will be managed by a trustee of your choosing. That trustee will be tasked with providing your child with money the trustee deems appropriate. Because the trustee will have access to the funds and your child will not, your child will have:

  • Protection of the assets in the trust from creditors and potential predators
  • Additional income to provide amenities and ensure a better quality of life
  • Retained eligibility for government benefits, such as Supplemental Social Security (SSI), Medicaid, and other programs designed for low-income individuals
  • Some independence while being carefully supervised in terms of financial matters

A well-prepared special needs trust will enable your child to have essentials covered by government assistance while enjoying the funds you leave in trust to provide extra clothing, entertainment, educational programs, travel, and private therapy. 
Depending on your child’s needs and capabilities, the special needs trust may also be used for private medical or dental care not provided by government benefits as well. Also, the special needs trust will likely prevent any family squabbles over who should be managing the finances of the special needs individual.
Very few people have estates substantial enough to support an autistic child into adulthood and through his/her entire lifetime. A great many, however, have enough to supplement government funds to enrich the life of a special needs loved one. Establishing a special needs trust is an enduring gift you can give to your autistic child while providing yourself with invaluable peace of mind.

Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.