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Two Key Strategies for Using Estate Planning to Provide for Your Child’s Special Needs

Weber Law Oct. 28, 2019

Parents of children diagnosed with an intellectual or developmental disability often think about how they can best care for their child presently and into the future. As a parent, you understand the unique needs of your child like no one else, and you work to meet those needs daily. You also advocate for your child about their needs to others who help you care for them and provide services that they need. Regardless of your child’s age, you are a vital and valued part of their everyday life.

Part of providing for your child’s needs includes planning for what will happen if you become disabled or ill, or when you pass away. Estate planning attorneys are dedicated to helping clients prepare for those possibilities, and your attorney can help you create an estate plan that ensures that your child will get the care they need at all times during your lifetime and theirs. Today, we will explore two things your estate planning attorney can help you do to create an estate plan that addresses your child’s unique needs.

One of the first things you’ll want to create with the help of your estate planning attorney is a letter of intent. A letter of intent is a document that spells out how you and your child live your life every day so that others can know how to care for your child if you cannot do so due to injury, illness, or death. When you develop your letter of intent, please pay careful attention to details so that whoever is tasked with following your instructions has all the information that they need. For example, if you pay your child’s bills and manage their finances, the letter will need to include banking information and information about bill due dates. Include daily routines, medical and service appointment schedules, and other logistical information are essential, as well as information about how best to interact with your child, what things calm them and upset them, and other things a person could do to care lovingly for your child as you do.

Your letter of intent is not intended to provide authority or instruction for caring for your child permanently. It could be used while you are ill until you recover. If it is used after you pass away, it would be used temporarily until a permanent caregiving scenario like power of attorney or guardianship is implemented. Your attorney can help you understand the options that are available for providing lifelong care and support for your child. They can also help you assess your child’s needs and determine the least restrictive caregiving scenario that will ensure that your child’s needs are met. Your child’s autonomy and ability to care for themselves when they are an adult are precious freedoms that must be respected. While full guardianship is essential for minors and for adults who need extensive support in managing every aspect of day to day life, many individuals thrive under the watchful eye of a power of attorney who takes care of finances or other areas where support and guidance are required while having freedom to make decisions in areas where they are competent.

Wichita attorney J. Joseph Weber is here to serve you. Please call our office, or contact us online to arrange a consultation to discuss your Kansas estate planning questions.