Since the day your child was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you have done everything you can to get them the therapy, education, services, and respect they deserve. You have coped by taking it one day at a time and not getting too far ahead of yourself in the worries and fears you have for their future. This is understandable.
At Ross & Shoalmire, we admire the parents and caretakers who fight to get what their dependants with ASD need to live a secure, rewarding life. As hard as it may be to look to the future, we help families in Texas and Arkansas find solutions to the issues that could arise in the future and put them down in legally binding documents. When you work with us to develop a special needs estate plan, you can go back to the day-to-day needs of your child with ASD with the peace of mind that they will be cared for no matter what happens in the future.
Why Custom Plans Are So Important for Families With Autistic Children
ASD is diagnosed in about one out of every 50 children in the United States each year. A diagnosis of ASD doesn’t mean the same thing for every individual. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that people call fall anywhere along a continuum of abilities and have unique challenges and strengths. Individuals with ASD could be severely challenged and require significant support in their daily lives, could be highly skilled and live completely independent lives, or fall somewhere in between. Generally speaking, people with ASD face challenges with:
- Social skills
- Repetitive behaviors
- Nonverbal communication
With therapy, inclusive educational opportunities, social skills coaching, and other interventions and supports, children with ASD can overcome many challenges to find their place in the world. However, they usually rely on their parents or guardians to help them find—and fund—the supports they need. Because each family with an autistic child is unique, and each child with ASD has a distinct set of needs and abilities, it’s important that their estate plan is custom-designed to meet those needs. At Ross & Shoalmire, PLLC, we understand the unique needs of families who are raising a child with special needs, and we take the time to learn about your challenges and hopes for the future when creating your estate plan.
What to Consider in an Estate Plan When You Have a Child With ASD
No matter where your child falls on the autism spectrum, your biggest concern is who will look out for them if something happens to you. Whether you provide around-the-clock hands-on care for a highly challenged, non-verbal dependent, or you are an advocate and resource for a totally independent adult with ASD, you want to know that someone will continue in that role if you can’t. We can help you tailor the following important documents to meet your needs:
- Last Will & Testament. You might already have a Will, but you need to make sure it names a guardian for your minor child and for your child after they turn 18 if you believe they will continue to need one. An attorney will help you determine what can be left to a child with ASD in your Will and what they should not inherit based on the government benefits they may be entitled to.
- Special Needs Trust. In order to continue to provide for your child with ASD without jeopardizing their access to benefits, establishing a Special Needs Trust is often a good idea. Your attorney can explain who is eligible and how it works.
- Letter of Intent. While not a legally binding document, this can be a powerful tool to leave behind. In this letter, you spell out your child’s daily routine, as well as your goals for your child, including your plans for their education, independent living, support services, and more. If the guardian you have chosen is not familiar with your child’s daily life, this will be vital information for them.
- Powers of Attorney. These documents allow a trusted individual to make decisions for your child in your place if you are incapacitated in some way. Guardianships, Trusts, and Wills only come into play upon your death, so Powers of Attorney are essential to protect your child if you are hospitalized, develop dementia, or are unreachable for some reason.
The terms of each of these documents will be specific to your goals and the needs of your child with ASD. Our team is prepared to explain the law and your options when you come in to meet with us.
Are You Looking for a Special Needs Trust Attorney in Texarkana, TX?
If you have a child with special needs and are looking for help with an Estate Plan, you need to speak with an experienced Special Needs Trust attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Texarkana office directly at 903.223.5653. We also have offices in Tyler, Paris, Longview as well as Magnolia, AR!