Families with Special Needs Children: Planning for the Transition to Adulthood and Beyond

Do you know a family with a special needs child?  As the child grows into the teenage years and adulthood, many parents are concerned about how they will protect the child from financial, physical, and legal harm as they turn 18 years old and “age-up” into legal adulthood.  

I work with these families, giving legal advice and counsel, and preparing necessary documents, as to the best way to protect their special child, taking into account the child’s own needs and capabilities, and the family’s resources.  Some of the protections include:

Guardianship – parents or adult siblings may need to maintain decision-making responsibility.

Alternatives to guardianship, including  “Supported Decision Making Plans.”

Special Needs Trust – to protect SSI or Medicaid benefits while allowing for funding for future needs and protection of family assets.

Powers of Attorney.

Designation of guardians or substitute guardians in case of future disability.

Families are advised to begin the planning for their child’s future early, at least by age 17 ½ , in order to prevent gaps in the child’s legal protections.

This article does not constitute legal advice. It is to be used for descriptive purposes only.  Please seek the advice of a competent lawyer in your state.