April 2, 2019, is the 12th Annual World Autism Awareness Day.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health:
“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is said to be a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life.”
About 1 in every 59 children born in the United States has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis. Each child with an ASD diagnosis will have their own unique pattern of how the disorder manifests, and how severely it impairs their ability to function. It is also not something the child can simply “grow out of.” ASD may cause difficulty in social interactions at school, work, or in society in general. It may cause difficulty in estate planning.
To parents of children of autism, planning is a part of life. Whether you are planning to incorporate speech or physical therapy, considering the benefits of special education programs, or working to implement interventions, planning is a constant. You don’t have a garden-variety life, so it probably won’t come as a surprise that planning for your estate with a special needs child should also not be garden variety. If your child’s abilities likely won’t include handling their own finances, a Special Needs Trust may be appropriate.
A Special Needs Trust is managed by a Trustee who follows the instructions within the Trust to determine when and how much your child will receive. A Special Needs Trust will also allow your child to still qualify for government benefits like SSI and Medicaid. You can also identify what expenses are prohibited, so that you can protect your child from being taken advantage of by a caregiver.
We strongly recommend parents with an autistic child speak with an experienced estate and trust attorney to create a special needs trust to protect your child in the event of your passing. For more information, please see the available resource: A Child with Special Needs, Needs Special Planning, a free report available from our website.