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Estate planning for your child with special needs

If you're a parent raising a special-needs child in Illinois, you're probably concerned about who will care for your child when you're gone. Let's say you have a child with a cognitive disability, and your child will never be able to live independently on his or her own. Knowing that only you can offer the highest level of love, attention and care, it can be frightening to consider what will happen to your adult child with special needs if you become incapacitated.

This is where a special-needs trust can help. A special-needs trust - also referred to as a supplemental-needs trust - is one of the most powerful estate planning tools that parents can use to protect a child who will require financial support and care for the rest of his or her life.

Why are special-needs trusts important?

Special-needs trusts are important and necessary because they prevent a special-needs child from losing government benefits when they receive an inheritance. Most children and adults with disabilities qualify to receive government assistance in the form of Supplemental Social Security Income, Medicare and Medicaid. However, if the individual receives a large inheritance, those assets could disqualify him or her from receiving these critical public benefits.

Assets protected inside a special-needs trust, on the other hand, will not preclude the government benefits recipient from keeping his or her public benefits. You can use funds contained in a special-needs trust to pay for various life expenditures your child will encounter - like costs associated with haircuts, dental work, eyeglasses and in-home caregivers.

You can earmark funds in a special-needs trust to pay for trips to visit family and life-enriching educational programs. Essentially, a well-planned special-needs trust will elevate the quality of life enjoyed by your child above and beyond what his or her government benefits provide.

Get help from an experienced supplemental-needs trust attorney

An experienced special-needs trust lawyer is skilled at predicting your child's future needs during his or her different stages of life. These and other considerations will be paramount to the success of your trust and estate plan in achieving the goal of providing your special-needs child with the highest quality of life possible when you're gone.

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