Guardians entrusted with the lifelong care of adults with developmental disabilities face unique challenges.
Ensuring their well-being and security becomes a paramount concern, especially as they age. One aspect of this responsibility is crafting a comprehensive estate plan to safeguard the interests of your loved one.
1. Create a will
Begin by creating a clear and legally binding will following New York’s probate laws. A will specifies the distribution of your assets after your passing. Appoint a guardian for your adult child with developmental disabilities. Choose someone who understands their unique needs and can provide the necessary care.
2. Establish a special needs trust
A special needs trust provides financial support without jeopardizing eligibility for government assistance programs, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income. Structure the trust to cater to your loved one’s specific requirements.
3. Create a letter of intent
Draft a detailed letter of intent outlining your adult child’s daily routine, preferences, medical history and any specific care instructions. This document provides future caregivers with invaluable insights into your loved one’s life.
4. Consider future housing
Think about where your loved one will reside once you are no longer able to provide care. Explore options like group homes, assisted living facilities or co-housing arrangements, and include these plans in your estate documents.
5. Update beneficiary designations
Review and update beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts and other assets. Ensure that the proceeds go to the special needs trust rather than directly to your loved one to maintain their eligibility for government benefits.
As one of the 1.3 million adult guardians in the United States, you play an important role in your loved one’s life. Taking the steps above provides peace of mind when you are no longer able to fulfill that role.