4 Legal Protections for Parents of Children with Special Needs

By Daniel A. Perry, Esq.

As a parent of a child with special needs, special needs legal protection will ensure that your child is protected now and in the future. Here are four legal protections necessary for every parent of a child with special needs.

1. Obtain Guardianship of Your Child

Once your child reaches adulthood, they will face significant changes and responsibilities in the eyes of the law. Without the proper legal documents, you might find yourself unable to communicate with doctors, schools and other institutions on your child’s behalf.

Thankfully, there are means of retaining control. Through probate court proceedings, a guardianship can be established that grants you the authority to act on behalf of your adult child.

Parents can be granted guardianship of the person, the estate or both. If your child receives government benefits, or has income or assets of any kind, typically a guardianship of the estate will be required. Many requirements and legal responsibilities come with pursuing and becoming guardian of an adult child. Therefore, you should speak with an attorney when pursuing guardianship.

2. Establish a Revocable Living Trust for You and Your Spouse

Many questions occur after the deaths of the parents:

  • Who will provide care for your child?
  • Where will the child live?
  • Who will help with their finances?
  • Who will help them with their daily life?

You can use a revocable living trust to document these wishes in your estate plan and provide the necessary protection for your child after your death. It can also ensure that your assets pass to your children and loved ones — free from the expenses of probate court.

Finally, your trust can be structured so that your estate passes to your child in a protected manner.

3. Emergency and Permanent Guardianship Nominations

Certain legal documents must be completed to ensure that guardianship passes to who you want once you are gone. This includes completing emergency and permanent guardianship nominations.

Without these legal documents, your family would be forced into probate court — where multiple family members might contest the guardianship.

4. Special Needs Trust

The final legal protection that you should consider is a special needs trust. Once your child reaches adulthood, a special needs trust will ensure that your inheritance goes to your child.

Upon your death, a special needs trust will also ensure that:

  • The inheritance is always managed by a person or company with your child’s best interest in mind.
  • Your inheritance is always available to provide for your child.
  • Your child never loses eligibility to any government benefits as a result of receiving an inheritance.

Without a special needs trust, your child may be taken advantage of by a friend or family member, and could lose the access to their inheritance.

For More Information

For help implementing the proper special needs legal protection for your child, please contact our office at (513) 241-0400 or use the contact form available on this website to schedule a time to speak with one of our Estate Planning Attorneys.

We look forward to hearing from you.