Nov 14, 2008
What do you do if you’re an elderly parent still caring for a disabled child who can’t care for him or herself? Last week I wrote about “empty nesters” who have never really had an empty nest. These are parents of children with disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, mental retardation, vision impairment, muscular dystrophy, genetic and chromosomal disorders, Down’s syndrome, and fetal alcohol syndrome, to name just a few. Some disabilities are apparent at birth, and others are caused by accidents or manifest themselves as mental illness later in life, but the end result is the same: The child is being cared for by a loving parent who worries about who will provide care for that child once the parent is gone.
The most common advice of the attorney who does not practice in the area of special needs trust planning (or what we prefer to call Tender Loving Care (TLC) Trusts) has been for the parent to disinherit the child. Disinherit means to make sure you leave that disabled child with absolutely no allocation of money directly. This gives the simplistic idea that one should just leave extra money to one of the other children who will provide care for the disabled child and money management. Even in the best of families, this is usually a disastrous idea for the following reasons:
It is the job of the elder law and special needs attorney to assist families like this in developing proper planning so that we can help the parents to create a better way to manage both money and care after they are gone.
A TLC Trust is designed to work in partnership with any public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. It is a way for parents to leave money for the needs of their child beyond what public benefits would pay. A TLC Trust can provide supplemental care for recreation, social activities, pets, special therapies, entertainment, and even vacation opportunities for a child by the use of trust money. A TLC Trust can also purchase professional care management, which can enhance not only the dignity, but the quality of life of a disabled child. The TLC Trust is a far more loving and caring solution to the challenge of providing for a child with special needs.
Please don’t disinherit your child with a disability; contact an elder law attorney who can assist you in designing a custom plan to meet the very special needs of your child, so that he or she can be given tender loving care after you have passed away.
My wife and I had our first child three years ago. That’s when we decided to set up a trust, should anything happen to either of us. We reached out to Zach Hesselbaum to help us out. He was very thorough and professional throughout the whole process. Zach went above and beyond to make sure that we understood every detail of setting it up and he did an excellent job. We recently had our second child a few months ago. With the new baby, he helped us make the necessary revisions to the trust. Zach made this process great for us! I would definitely recommend using him for any of your estate planning needs!
Tom G., Naperville, IL