Although the term “estate planning” can sound intimidating, it simply means planning for what will happen with your assets once you pass away. Believe it or not, nearly everyone has an “estate.” Your estate includes everything you own – your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions. And no matter how large or small your estate may be, everyone has something in common – you can’t take it with you when you die.
When that happens, you want to control how those things are given to the people or organizations you care most about. To ensure your wishes are carried out, you need to provide instructions stating whom you want to receive something, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it. However, estate planning is often more complicated if you have an autistic child.
First, your autistic child likely has greater needs. Depending on where your child falls on the spectrum, he may require specialized treatment that includes therapy, housing, education, adaptive equipment, and many other services. The need for this care may be lifelong. Providing the appropriate care requires careful estate planning.
Second, estate planning is the only way to ensure that you can provide for your child without jeopardizing his eligibility for government and private benefit programs.
Finally, estate planning is the only way to protect your child’s financial interests today as well as in the future, when you may no longer be able to help.