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Estate Planning Information

When a Child Has a Disability

If you're the caregiver for a child with a disability, experts recommend planning for the possibility that the child will outlive you. Here's estate planning advice from the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities, a federally funded clearinghouse in Washington, DC:

  • Find a lawyer who specializes in legal and estate-planning matters for people with disabilities. For referrals, contact a local disabilities group or your local bar association.
  • Ask your lawyer about a "special needs trust" or similar arrangement that enables parents to leave assets for a child's long-term needs and still preserve the child's eligibility for valuable government benefits such as Social Security payments, health care, subsidized housing and personal attendant care.
  • Parents of a child with a mental disability (such as mental retardation or a mental illness) may need special financial or estate plans if the child is unable to earn income or manage his or her own financial affairs. Consider whether to name a guardian or conservator in your will who would make decisions for your child after your death.