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Divorcing parents: Estate planning for special needs children

Caring for a special needs child is challenging for all parents. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that the parents will divorce. As difficult as ending a marriage is in even the best of circumstances, it is even worse when the parents have a child who has complex emotional and physical challenges.

Financial planning and medical care planning are challenging for parents of special needs children. When you create an estate plan, these matters must be covered to help the individuals who care for your kids when you aren't able to.

Planning for medical care

Medical care is a huge consideration of a special needs child. Unlike medically typical children, a medically complex child -- whether the complexities are due to mental or physical conditions -- needs a comprehensive outline that can help guardians ensure that the medical needs are met. This should include a listing of the child's conditions, doctors, treatments and any other information necessary to get the appropriate care. It also needs to have a detailed schedule for medications, including what each one is used for.

Financial planning

There are a few ways that you can handle the financial planning needed for these cases. One is to set up a special needs trust. This enables you to provide financial support for your child without impacting their ability to receive needs-based services and benefits.

These trusts don't place the assets in your kid's hands. Instead, the trustee can use the assets to support the child's needs. There is specific wording that must be included in these trusts so that it is clear that they aren't meant to be used as the primary method of support.

Continuity of care

Since special needs children usually need lifelong care, you should plan for this as best as possible. While you might want to choose someone who is older as the primary caregiver, it can be beneficial to name more than one person. The team might include someone who is a younger adult so that they can help to care for your child when other older members of the team are no longer able to.

As you develop the estate plan, you may need to work with your ex to ensure that there aren't any gaps in the plan. Just remember that your ultimate goal has to be to care for all of your dependents as best as you can after you pass away.

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