If you have a child with special needs, a big part of your estate planning is likely setting up a special needs trust and other systems to support the child when you can no longer do so. You understand that your role as a parent is different than most, and your child may need life-long care. The trust can help to provide that for as long as possible.
Of course, exactly what type of assistance your child needs, and how much that assistance will cost, depends to some degree on what type of special needs the child has. There are four main classifications:
- Physical: This includes issues like muscular dystrophy, chronic asthma, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
- Developmental: This includes things like autism, processing disorders, dyslexia and down syndrome.
- Sensory impaired: This includes issues such as limited hearing, being fully deaf, being blind or being visually impaired.
- Emotional/Behavioral: This includes things like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), bipolar disorder and oppositional defiance disorder.
This is just a small sampling. These are the main categories, but they do not include all disorders and the examples provided barely scratch the surface. If your child's condition is not listed, that does not mean it doesn't fall under these general umbrella categories or that it doesn't deserve your attention. Every child is unique and you must consider what will be best for them and their future.
As you work to fit this goal into your estate planning, whether you are using a special needs trust or something else entirely, make sure you are well aware of the legal steps you need to take in California.