Everyone should have an estate plan in place. Life is short, and the unexpected happens every second of every day all around the world. But when you have a special needs child, estate planning is even more important. If something should happen to you, what would happen to them? If you don't legally have a plan in place, you need to get one immediately. Here's what you need to get started preparing for the future.
Compile Important Information
In order to make a plan, you need to get organized. Gather all your personal information. This includes birth certificates, social security cards, baptismal records, military discharge papers, marriage certificates, death certificate if the other parent has passed away, divorce decrees, legal papers, property deeds, vehicle titles, and everything else you can think of that someone might need to manage your estate. You will also need to include passwords and usernames to any online accounts. Obviously, this is all sensitive information that you wouldn't want in just anyone's hand, so make sure it is stored securely.
Create An Emergency Contact List
Make a list of anyone and everyone you trust to care for your child should something happen. Include siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents, your spouse if applicable, caretakers, and anyone else that may be involved in your child's life.
Gather Financial Information
Make a list of your various bank accounts, including the account numbers, names, and addresses. Include any stocks and bonds, as well as retirement account information. You will also want to include any life insurance information, a copy of the listed beneficiary information, and the death benefit. You will also need to provide the user name and passwords for these accounts as well, which again should be stored securely.
Plan For Your Child
Think about the worst-case scenario and strategize what you would want to see happen to your child when your time comes. Make plans for both minor children and your adult special needs child. Who do you want to be their trustee? Is the person you have in mind willing to take on that responsibility? You also need to plan for yourself. What would happen if you were on life support? Your special needs child wouldn't be able to make important end of life medical decisions.
Meet With An Attorney
Once you have gathered all of the required information and have planned who you want to care for your child, meet with an estate planning attorney to go over your options and get everything in writing legally.
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