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Estate planning for parents of children with special needs

Most Georgia parents want to create a lasting legacy that they can one day pass on to their children. For parents of children with special needs, estate planning often involves more than just leaving an inheritance. Special needs trusts can perform specific and specialized functions to ensure the continued care of adults with special needs, even after their parents have passed away.

A trust might seem unnecessary when considering the $11.18 million lifetime estate tax exclusion. However, some essential programs and services -- like Security Supplemental Income and Medicaid -- have strict income barriers. Leaving an adult child an inheritance or even financially supporting them throughout their adult lives could leave them ineligible for these programs, forcing families to use up their assets first. This could leave adults with special needs without financial security during their later years in life.

A special needs trust can safely hold assets and money without counting toward the income level for these programs. Individuals can use the funds in their SNTs to supplement any additional medical expenses, purchase food, pay housing costs, cover entertainment and so much more. Establishing an SNT also allows these individuals to have a better quality of life rather than limiting them exclusively to needs-based benefits.

Even if a parent intends to continue providing ongoing care to an adult child with special needs, there will likely come a day when the parent will no longer be around to do so. Estate planning can provide crucial options for these Georgia families. By using a special needs trust and other important planning tools, parents can feel better assured that their children will be well cared for, even in the future.

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