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Encino Trust Lawyer Answers, “How Should I Divide My Estate When One Child Has Special Needs?”

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There are many issues that come up when planning for a loved one with special needs, including how much property or how many assets should be left behind in a Special Needs Trust for his or her benefit. This issue can be especially tricky if you’d also like to leave an inheritance to other family members. There is no black and white answer to this question – it all depends on your family’s unique situation and what goals you’d like to achieve when planning for your loved one with special needs.

An attorney who is experienced with special needs planning can help you map out your plan and provide advice to help make the best decisions for the future. Some of the issues an experienced attorney might ask you when determining the best course of action may concern your present family situation, the total size and makeup of your estate, and your loved one’s condition and/or current needs as they relate to specialized care.

Your present family situation is important to take into account, especially if you plan on leaving a legacy for other family members.   You may need to reduce the amount given to other siblings in order to provide extra to a child with disabilities who may need a lifetime of care. Or, you may decide to provide extra compensation to a sibling who serves as a full-time caretaker and foregoes a career.  There’s no right or wrong answer and the way you choose to divide your assets can be flexible to meet your family’s unique needs.

An experienced attorney will also want to examine the size and makeup of your estate, as both of those may allow for different strategies to leave legacies for your loved one with special needs and other family members. For example, if you have a large life insurance policy that can be left to a Special Needs Trust, you may be able to divide your other property and assets amongst the remaining family members.

Your loved one’s condition must also be taken into account. This is because you’ll need to decide how much money should be left behind to cover long-term care needs. It’s not a particularly easy task to complete, but an experienced attorney can help point you in the right direction to ensure there are enough funds to handle medical, physical and personal expenses in your absence.

If you would like to learn more about special needs planning, or if you’d like to discuss your existing Special Needs Trust and how it matches up with your current situation, please set up an appointment at our Encino law firm by calling (818) 905-6088.