Creating a special needs trust to protect an autistic child

A few decades ago, Down syndrome was one of the most common forms of special needs in the United States. With one in 700 live births resulting in a child with Down syndrome, it was common enough to be known without being very likely to impact any given family. These days, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are the most common form of special needs in the United States. As many as one out of 68 children in the country have some form of this condition.

More than ten times as many families will need to worry about the care and keeping of autistic children than children with Down syndrome. Children and adults with autism can face more discrimination in some ways, because they don’t necessarily look like they have special needs. That can make it harder for them to receive the care and accommodations they require to live their best lives.

Many autistic people need lifelong care

Autism isn’t a monolith, and each person diagnosed with a form of autism is unique. Some people have secondary conditions, like epilepsy, while others struggle with learning social rules and language. Unlike many other conditions that result in special needs, autism doesn’t inherently impact the lifespan of those with the condition. Autistic children can and do grow into old age with some regularity. However, those with autism may require special help for their whole lives.

Some people with autism can hold down good-paying jobs. Others will never be able to work or can only meet the demands of simple, minimum-wage positions. Most parents understand that minimum wage won’t be enough to provide for their children. Ensuring access to health care, a safe place to live and other necessities, like clothing and shoes, often falls to the parents or grandparents of children with autism as they grow.

A trust helps ensure a basic standard of living

Creating a special needs trust can help ensure that your autistic child will have the financial resources he or she needs to live a healthy and happy life. While assigning custody of a special needs child to the right guardian is important, it is also important to take steps to financially provide for special needs children in the future. A well-funded trust can help ensure your child can pay bills and access critical support systems like medical care or schooling in the future.

A special needs trust can place strict limits on how and when financial resources can are accessed. These requirements and limits can reduce the potential for a guardian or caretaker skimming funds or otherwise depleting the assets you leave behind for an autistic loved one. Additionally, limiting how much can be used at once can ensure that there are assets available for years to come for your special needs child.

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Kevin Tharpe

With 25 years of experience, Kevin understands how estate planning, special needs planning, and government benefits programs work together. This is a crucial element of a thorough plan. He explains your eligibility for benefits programs and ensures that you do not make costly mistakes that may disqualify you or deplete your assets.

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