Autism is a bio-neurological developmental disability that occurs on a spectrum, with some individuals experiencing worse symptoms than others. Roughly one out of every 54 children falls somewhere on the autism spectrum. If your child has autism spectrum disorder, you may worry about his or her ability to work.
Not being able to work, of course, may make your child’s life difficult, especially after your death. Setting up a supplemental needs trust, sometimes called a special needs trust, may give you some peace of mind about your child’s future.
What is a supplemental needs trust?
A supplemental needs trust is an estate planning tool that sets aside funds for the benefit of your autistic child. Because this type of trust does not transfer ownership of assets to your son or daughter, funds in the trust do not typically count as income for purposes of qualifying for means-tested government benefits.
What can the supplemental needs trust cover?
If your loved one is eligible for government financial assistance through Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income or another program, he or she should not use disbursements from the trust to pay for everyday expenses. Supplemental expenses, such as home improvements, travel and hobbies, are usually acceptable, however.
How does a supplemental needs trust help your child?
In addition to preserving your child’s eligibility for needs-based government help, a supplemental needs trust gives your son or daughter a safety net. That is, if your child has unmet needs, the supplemental needs trustee may work with social workers, doctors and others to meet them.
You probably have many options for providing for your autistic child after your death. Ultimately, though, establishing a supplemental needs trust may improve your son’s or daughter’s quality of life considerably.