How To Provide For Your Child With Special Needs
by David Harmon
(NAPSI)Properly drafting and executing a will can help
parents protect children with special needs, especially in states that have set procedures
for distributing estates when there is no will.
For example, state inheritance laws generally divide the
estate between a surviving spouse and children. The needs of the family are not
considered. If the child is a minor, depending on the amount of his or her inheritance, a
guardian may have to be appointed by the court to manage the childs property.
If a parent dies intestate, his or her choice of guardian or
living situation for the child may be unknown and the court must appoint a guardian to
manage the money on behalf of a minor child without knowing the parents wishes.
The court-appointed guardian may not have an emotional
connection or vested interest in the disabled person, which may further complicate the
situation, causing considerable distress to surviving family members.
Government benefits like SSI are subject to income
limitations; other needs based benefits like Medicaid and Food Stamps look at assets as
well. If a disabled child is receiving government benefits and received more from a
deceased parent than permitted by program guidelines, benefits will stop. The child will
have to re-apply and re-qualify for benefits. During the interim, the child could be
expelled from a residence, such as a group home, or be removed from a treatment or
sheltered workshop program.
Most courts require that the guardian of the estate, even if
a parent, be bonded and make periodic accountings with respect to the minors or the
disabled. The guardian may need prior approval from the court before spending any of the
childs money. This could include buying a wheelchair or adaptive medical equipment
for the child.
When a properly drawn will is not in place, money that could
normally benefit a disabled child and other surviving children may be diminished by
unnecessary court costs and lawyers fees. Depending on the value of your estate, a
properly drawn will may also permit you to reduce or avoid state and federal estate taxes.
For more information about this and other related topics,
call 1-877-MetDESK or visit the MetDesk Web site at www.metlife.com/desk.
Mr. Harmon is the MetDESK Manager, and a parent of a
special needs child. MetDESK is a division of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, New
York, N.Y. 10010, that focuses on the financial concerns of families with special needs
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