Most responsible children consider how to care for their aging parents or spouse when they get older. Usually, you might argue that your kids will be (or are already) adults and can care for themselves.

However, the care they need may never stop if you have a special needs adult child. There are over forty million American parents providing care for an adult child. This person is usually a loved one over 18 with an illness or disability. The main question these parents ask is, “What will happen to my special needs child if I am no longer able to do so, or I am gone?”

The demand for “special needs housing” is increasing every day. Autism is one of the fundamental issues these children deal with; millions are now coming of age and becoming adults.

Usually, autism is the most prominent developmental and intellectually disabled special needs group. However, there is also Cerebral Palsy, Fragile X syndrome, Downs Syndrome, and more. Modern medicine has led to longer life expectancies in this group, and with longevity comes enormous expense.

The positive news is that we, as a society, have come a long way in empathetically dealing with the restrictions and limitations of a special needs child.

Thanks to these societal changes, most adult children with special needs can now live in an open community. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that people with special needs who receive government benefits must be housed in a less restrictive setting.

Examples of these types of housing and care facilities are:

  • Possibly living with other family members – Relatives may agree to house and care for your adult disabled child if you are gone. The caregivers can sometimes obtain Medicaid funds to deal with housing modifications and added expenses.
  • Group homes or supportive housing – Your special needs child may want to live in a supportive group home with others with special needs. These homes have counselors and other trained staff who help your child to live on their own the best they can.
  • Assisted living facilities and skilled nursing homes –  Deciding on these facilities depends on the severity of the disability that your child has. They may just need assistance for specific tasks or around-the-clock medical care. This can be expensive, but your nursing home planning Worcester lawyer has the experience to work with Medicaid (and more) to obtain the proper care for your disabled adult child.
  • Special needs trust ownership of a home or rental – By using a special needs trust, your child can own their home or pay rent in a private apartment. This is a flexible option for your child and one that can also pay for services to help them live independently.

Legally, How Can I Plan For My Loved One’s Special Needs?

Your Worcester Estate Planning lawyer, knowledgeable in nursing home and elder law, can inform you of various legal strategies and financial tools available to ensure the  financial security and care of your Special Needs loved one. These tools include the Special Needs Trust, ABLE Accounts, Wills, Guardianships, Advanced Directives, and more. 

Also, your lawyer can help you apply for Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid, etc. If called for, your lawyer can also function as a trustee for your disabled loved one upon your death.

Commonly, the same legal documents used in an estate plan are required for your special needs adult. When your special needs child turns eighteen, you may lose the right to make decisions on behalf of your child. Accordingly, new decisions must be made based on your loved one’s disability and mental capacity.

You may be advised to pursue guardianship or, depending on your unique situation,” advanced directives,” which can be used to allow you to continue to manage your adult special needs child’s life. 

Your estate planning lawyers’ advice, compassionate guidance, and knowledge of all the legal options available to you will be invaluable.

What Is A “Special Needs Trust?”

Your special needs loved one may already receive government benefits, including Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. However, this amount may only be enough to cover the bare necessities of their lives.

To provide a better quality of life, parents often set up “Special Needs Trusts” (SNTs) to give a specific amount of money for their loved one’s care, but without putting their disabled child’s eligibility to receive other rightful government or state benefits.

Special Needs Trusts can usually be used for education, clothing, medical care, etc., not covered by Medicaid or other needs.

What Is an ABLE Account, and Can It Help Me Care For My Adult Child?

ABLE Accounts were initiated around 2014—these accounts allow anyone with disabilities to open state-run, tax-advantaged savings and investment accounts. You must note that the ABLE account differs from a Special Needs Trust, but the two legal instruments complement each other.

Your special needs child’s ABLE account allows them to save and invest money without usually impacting their ability to obtain other public benefits.

Like everything else, the ABLE accounts have various legal rules and regulations and should be thoroughly discussed with your Worcester estate planning lawyer versed in these legal matters.

These are only some legal options available to you, and your special needs loved one. It’s mandatory to know that your unique case, family situation, and type of disability contribute to the legal complexity of caring for your special needs loved one after you leave. The good news is that an experienced, thorough, and meticulous estate planning law team will draft the necessary documents to ensure your loved one thrives.

I’m Concerned About My Special Needs Loved One If I’m Not Around; How Should I Proceed?

For many special needs loved ones, their physical and cognitive impairments can hinder their ability to make decisions, live independently, and provide financially for themselves. The fear you feel as a parent is that your special needs loved one will outlive you.

However, when the time comes, and you are no longer here or able to provide the care you’ve been happily giving, then your prime concern is that your special needs loved one still receives the best care and quality of life in the future.

Always note the details of each case is unique and must be approached with that in mind.

Consulting and thoroughly discussing your family’s situation with an empathetic, professional, and successful Worcester estate planning law firm knowledgeable in special needs trusts will affirm that your loved one receives the care you want and continues as planned.

None of us know the future, so consult with your estate planning lawyer today. Discuss your options and the legal solutions that fit your situation and ensure your special needs loved one’s future is the best it can be.