If you have children with special needs in Maryland, it is in your best interest and theirs to ensure they’ll be protected and well taken care of after you pass. There are steps you can take to accomplish this. They include:
1. Designating a guardian
A guardian is a person who will take over all legal and medical decision-making for your child if something happens to you. You can name anyone you want as a guardian, but it’s important to choose someone responsible and loving and who will have your child’s best interests at heart.
2. Creating a special needs trust
You should consider creating a special needs trust for your child if you have assets you wish to leave for them. This type of trust is designed to hold funds or other properties for someone with special needs without affecting their eligibility for government benefits like Medicaid or Social Security.
3. Having your kids apply for SSI benefits
Your special needs child may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits from the government. This program can help cover the costs of medical care and other necessary expenses when your child is older.
When your child is still younger than 18 years, the Social Security Administration may deny these benefits after looking at your earnings and assets. But, if they turn 18 years of age, the government will consider them an adult and only look at their assets and income when determining eligibility. So, immediately after your disabled child comes of age, you should start working on their SSI benefits.
4. Making a will
Your special needs planning won’t be complete without a will. This document allows you to designate how you want your belongings to be distributed after your death. If you have other children, this is where you can govern how they’ll be taken care of as well. If you die without a will, the state will determine how your assets are dispersed, which may not align with your wishes.
Planning for your disabled child takes time, great effort, and sometimes, help from professionals. Although this is not an exhaustive list, it is a great place to get started.