Special Needs Child and Estate Planning

In his article titled Estate Planning for a Family with a Special Needs Child, Sebastian V. Grassi, Jr. lists five estate planning options for parents of a special needs child:

1. Distributing assets directly to the special needs child;
2. Disinheriting the special needs child;
3. Leaving property to another family member;
4. Establishing a third-party discretionary support trust for the special needs child; and
5. Establishing a third-party created and funded Special Needs Trust for the child.

Only number 5, establishing a third-party created and funded special needs trust, is recommended because it will not disqualify the child from receiving means-tested government benefits, it is legally enforceable and it does not subject the assets to creditors of family members.

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