Caring for a special needs child starts with planning. In California, children are provided for after being included in a will or trust. Before a parent’s or guardian’s death, special needs planning ensures the long-term survival of a disabled child.
Special needs include physical or mental disabilities that prevent a person’s normal functioning. Children with special needs are born with genetic disorders, birth injuries, have been in an accident, or have developed severe physical or psychological problems that affect their schooling and home life. They have difficulty performing basic tasks independently or learning and developing advanced skills at school. Many have chronic symptoms, such as anxiety or fatigue, that require regular medication or medical treatment.
Types of planning
Obtaining a trust is the most common type of special needs planning. A special needs trust (SNT) provides funds to a child beneficiary with special needs and is designed to guarantee government benefits to eligible participants. An SNT is an individual trust that is funded independently, or is made as part of a broader living trust. A support trust provides funds for the beneficiary but denies the opportunity to receive government assistance through Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Parents or guardians can access different planning options for children with special needs. The most common option is opening a trust to place funds for later use. The two main types of trusts are special needs and support trusts, and selecting one depends on the need for government benefits. Once the child, known as a beneficiary, becomes an adult, the money, property or other assets available for use.