A mentally ill child is your responsibility. The government also chips in with public benefits to help you handle the situation. However, we have seen some cases where the family of the mentally ill child ended up jeopardizing the eligibility to receive these benefits.
Let us focus on how you can plan your estate the right way, and leave a portion of it to your mentally sick child without the likelihood of getting the money squandered away.
Leaving the Estate in the Hands of the Mentally Ill Child
The law allows you to leave a portion of the estate to your mentally ill child so that they can stay comfortable when you are long gone. Well, this allows the kid to be in control of their own affairs. The issue here is that the kid will now lose all the public benefits because they now have an income.
Another issue that arises when you leave money to the child is that he will spend it all on treatment and other requirements and soon the estate will be used up.
Some of the kids end up using the money extravagantly especially when they are in a manic state. Additionally, they will become prey to people that want to take advantage of the situation.
This tells you that leaving money directly to a mentally ill child isn’t such a viable option for you to explore.
Having a Custodian
The other option is to leave the estate in the hands of a custodian who is mentally sound to manage it on behalf of the child.
You can assign a person, in this case a family member to act as a custodian of the estate. There is a small catch though – the child needs to be under the care of the custodian so that he can look after his affairs.
This approach rides fully on the level of trust you have between you and the custodian. Talk to them and explain how you wish the money to be used. You can even come up with a written document telling the person the routine the child is used to, so that he can follow it to the latter.
The only downside to this arrangement is that the custodian for the estate doesn’t have any legal responsibility to look after the kid. Therefore, if the person dies, then the estate you gave him can go to his heir.
Establishing a Special Needs Trust
Also called a discretionary trust, this is an arrangement whereby you fund a trust to look after the welfare of the child.
To make sure this trust follows all the stipulated laws, work with an estate planning lawyer that can come up with a trust so that the government can’t get their hands on the funds, or declare your child ineligible for public support.
For the trust to stand, it needs to be able to meet the requirements that have been set down in the state. For example, the trust cannot be used to provide money for shelter, food and clothing for the child because these services are provided directly by the public program.
You can also opt to assign a professional trustee to handle the fund. Depending on the state, our staff at Trusts and Estate can recommend a few organizations that you can use. This trustee comes with relevant experience to know where the funds need to go and will be careful not to disburse too much or too little to the child.
This trustee works closely with therapists, government agencies and therapists to make sure the funds won’t make the child ineligible for public funds.
Advanced Healthcare Directives
It is vital that you appoint someone to handle medical decisions on behalf of the child. For a child with special needs, you need to have a directive that understands the medical history and the types of medications that the child needs.
A child that has mental illness needs special attention so that they can enjoy their youth. Many people don’t take it upon themselves to put the kid in an estate, but this is a requirement by the law because the child is your offspring.
Call an Estate Planning Lawyer Today
It is vital that you work with the right lawyer when setting up your estate plan to provide for a mentally ill child. Consult with friends for some advice, and then take the necessary steps to make sure your child will be well taken care of when you pass away.