If your child is among the more than 56 million Americans currently living with a disability, there are certain unique considerations that go into creating your estate plan that differ from those faced traditionally. Odds are, you have concerns about who is to care for your disabled child and how, once you are no longer able to provide such care yourself. A comprehensive estate plan can help you answer these and other questions while giving you peace of mind that your child will receive the care he or she needs in your absence.

Among the most important estate planning steps you can take as a special needs parent is creating a special needs trust.

Understanding the special needs trust

A special needs trust presents a way for you to leave money and assets to your special needs child without having to worry about whether what you leave will impact your child’s ability to retain public assistance. If your disabled child is among the many receiving public benefits in the form of, say, Social Security Income or Medicaid, you must be careful about leaving your son or daughter an inheritance in a will.

Why? Depending on how much you leave your child in the will, the windfall may make it so your child no longer qualifies for such programs, meaning he or she will soon stop receiving such assistance from the government. A special needs trust, however, essentially shields any money left to your child so that it does not come under consideration when determining benefit eligibility. There are several steps involved in establishing a special needs trust, such as determining the exact type of trust you need and deciding who you want to serve as trustee.

Estate planning for your disabled child is essential if you want to ensure his or her wellbeing once you pass on. While the process may seem overwhelming, chances are high that you will feel much more confident about your child’s future if you have proper provisions in place.