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Basic estate planning for parents with special needs children

Parents who have special needs children often have concerns about how they will be taken care of after they are gone, and who will be around to ensure their welfare or make decisions for them if they are unable to care for themselves. Creating a will, a special needs trust and setting up a guardianship are all fundamental estate planning approaches to easing concerns about this situation.

Setting up this basic kind of plan ensures that as much of the parents' estate as possible will pass to the desired beneficiaries. It will also assist in minimizing taxes and avoiding probate, which is the legal process of winding down the estate of the deceased individual. It will also ensure special needs children are cared for after their parents' passing.

Establishing a will can help avoid a lot of legal trouble and confusion for family later on. Most individuals who own any significant assets and have children should have a will in place, even if only a simple will. Wills can be altered as the family situation changes to ensure it reflects the desires of the individual.

A special needs trust is an excellent tool for seeing to the welfare of a special needs child. It allows the parent to provide for their child without risking mismanagement of the assets left to them. Special needs trusts, if correctly set up, can also protect a special needs child from creditors and allow the child to continue receiving government benefits.

Guardianships are, for many people, one of the most important parts of the estate plan. Ensuring that children have a trustworthy person to care for their personal and property interest after they are gone is a decision very dear to parents' hearts. Such a selection should obviously be made carefully, in consultation with an experienced attorney and in conversation with family.

Estate planning get much more complicated than these suggestions, but these offer a sort of minimum protection for parents with special needs children.

Source: northjersey.com, "Estate planning and creating a guardianship," August 2, 2011.

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