If you are a parent of a child affected by cerebral palsy, you may be wondering how to take of your child financially after you pass away. Government benefits only provide for the minimal needs of your child and maybe slightly more.
One thought that may have entered your mind might have been to draft a will. Wills certainly can help you financially care for your child, but they are not the best solution.
How Does a Will Work?
A will is a document that simply states which assets you want given to whom after your death. You can change your will at any time while you are alive. And, you can appoint a guardian to care for your child if you suddenly become disabled.
If you do not create a will before your death, your assets are distributed through probate court. Probate court is time-consuming and costs somewhere between 5-7% of the assets you want distributed. The court may or may not distribute your assets as you had wished.
The most notable disadvantage of a will is that any assets distributed to your child are taken into account when the government determines the benefits he or she will receive. The primary advantages of a will are that it clearly defines who gets what, and the time and cost associated with probate court are reduced.
Should You Use a Will or Trust?
By far, the best option is for you to place all assets you would like your disabled child to receive in a trust. In particular, a “supplemental needs trust” is the best kind (this type of trust is also called a “special needs trust”). The primary advantage offered by a supplemental needs trust is that all funds or property the beneficiary receives are not taken into account when determining which government benefits he or she will receive.
If you have more questions regarding wills and trusts, contact your local attorney.