What You Need to Know About Estate Planning When You Have a Child with Autism

Special needs planning is extremely important for any family that is trying to figure out how to effectively set up the future for a child with a disability. Parents of children who have disabilities have even greater planning needs than other parents, and autism must be included in this discussion as it is increasingly a part of the lives of American families. 
Between 2014 and 2016, one in 40 children between the ages of three and 17 were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. These data points were first tracked in the early 2000s, when it was estimated that one out of 150 children were autistic. The condition is an extremely complex one, with a broad range of symptoms that can range from mild to severe.
The CDC says that it can cost approximately $17,000 or more per year to care for a child with autism. For a child who has severe autism and associated symptoms, that number can increase to more than $21,000 per year.
Families who come to financial and estate planning advisors in these situations are often overcome with questions and stress. Advanced planning strategies can be used to chart a path for the future that leaves the parents filled with peace of mind.
 
 
 
 

Parents of Special Needs Children Must Incorporate Advanced Estate Planning

Having a proper plan for the purposes for your estate is critical for any family, but it is even more important for someone who has a special needs dependent. Any mistake made along the process could jeopardize the child’s future.
ThinkstockPhotos-495759142It is important to consult with an experienced attorney who has years of experience with special needs planning. Traditional planning is much different than helping a child with special needs. There are two different generations involved in the estate planning process and the financial plan for these families is about more than the education, car, marriage or house.
However, it also includes incorporation of the financial requirements over the child’s lifetime. Knowing that the child will likely outlive the parents, this planning has to go beyond the lifetime of the first generation involved. There are two generations to consider in the retirement planning process as well. The estate plan needs to incorporate a careful consideration of what funding opportunities will assist the child in continuing to qualify for government benefits. Certain trusts and other strategies can be identified with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney.
Turning to someone who has helped other families with special needs dependents helps to ensure that the child’s access to critical government benefits is not jeopardized and increases the chances that he or she will have peace of mind about their future. A special needs child requires a different type of planning approach than traditional estate planning.  Contact a Virginia estate planning lawyer today to learn more.
 

Law would treat military parents of children with disabilities with the same respect as it does their civilian counterparts

On the plus side, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and of the Senate recently had the courage to introduce a bill that would greatly aid children with disabilities who have a parent in the military.
On the down side, the website govtrack.us gives the measure only a 1-percent chance of making it out of the House Armed Services Committee and no chance at all of being enacted.
And that, as the website for the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys points out, is a shame.
Introduced in early June by Congressman Jim Moran (D-Virginia) and Senator Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina) the Disabled Military Child Protection Act of 2103 would allow military retirees to transfer Survivor Benefit Plan annuities to a Special Needs Trust to provide long-term care for a disabled child.
“While the general public can transfer funds into an SNT, there is currently no mechanism for members of the military to do the same.”according to the announcement of the legislation on Rep. Moran’s website.
“As a father of a special needs child, I know how important it is for parents to be able to provide the best possible care for them,” Moran stated. “The Disabled Military Child Protection Act will give peace of mind to middle class military parents of more than 1,000 dependents that their children will receive good care after they are no longer able.”
“The Disabled Military Child Protection Act ensures that special needs dependents of our service members receive the care they need, deserve and have earned while making sure military special needs children are treated the same as those of civilians,” Hagan said in the announcement. “North Carolina is the most military-friendly state in the nation, and I am committed to supporting commonsense legislation like this that will support our military families that sacrifice so much to protect us.”
“The bill would allow more than 1,000 severely disabled military dependents to receive survivor benefits without losing access to Medicaid and SSI,” according to the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys.
The measure would not, the organization insists, lead to any abuse of the system.
“The benefit of the SNT is that it allows this individual with disabilities to have supplemental funds to pay for basic living needs and extra care above that provided by the government without disqualifying the individual for government benefit,” the website also states.