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Updating My Will to Include My Special Needs Child

  • Oct 27, 2023

Estate planning is a crucial part of ensuring financial security and peace of mind for your loved ones. However, when you have a child with special needs, traditional estate planning methods often fall short of addressing your unique concerns. Falcon Law Group specializes in helping families in New Jersey navigate these complex issues. This article aims to guide you through the intricacies of updating a Will in New Jersey to include your special needs child.

Wills and Special Needs

A Will is a legal document that articulates how your assets should be distributed upon your demise. When you have a special needs child, your Will becomes a critical part of a broader special needs planning strategy. In New Jersey, failing to update your Will could result in unintended consequences, such as disqualifying your child from vital government benefits. Working with a New Jersey special needs attorney can help you tailor your Will to your family’s unique requirements.

Importance of Updating Your Will to Include Your Special Needs Child

Updating your Will to include provisions for a special needs child is not just about asset distribution; it is about ensuring that your child continues to receive the care and resources necessary for a fulfilling life. Here are some reasons why this update is crucial:

Preservation of Benefits

Means-tested government programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid are invaluable resources for families with special needs children. Without proper estate planning, a straightforward inheritance can inadvertently disqualify your child from these programs. Hence, it’s vital to consult with a New Jersey special needs attorney to structure your Will in a way that preserves these essential benefits.

Special Needs Trust

A Special Needs Trust (SNT) is a legal tool that holds assets for the benefit of a person with special needs without affecting their eligibility for government aid. Including an SNT in your Will is an effective way to both safeguard your child’s future financial needs and maintain their access to means-tested benefits. The trust can finance supplemental expenses like medical care, education, and recreational activities that government programs do not cover.

Designation of Guardians

Selecting an appropriate guardian is a deeply personal and crucial decision. This individual will be responsible for your child’s day-to-day well-being and long-term care. It’s not just about choosing someone you trust but also ensuring that the person understands the nuances and challenges associated with your child’s special needs.

Such planning ensures that your child remains eligible for indispensable government benefits, has a financial safety net via a Special Needs Trust, and is cared for by a competent guardian.

Considerations When Including Your Special Needs Child in Your Will

When updating your Will in New Jersey, several factors need to be taken into consideration:

Type of Trust

Two common types of trusts are revocable and irrevocable trusts. A special needs attorney in NJ can guide you in choosing the most suitable trust type based on your circumstances.

Trustee Selection

Selecting a competent and reliable trustee is as crucial as establishing the trust itself. The trustee is responsible for managing the trust assets and ensuring the financial well-being of your child. It’s advisable to choose someone well-acquainted with the special needs community and knowledgeable in both financial management and healthcare.

Local Laws and Regulations

Estate planning laws can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another. New Jersey has its set of regulations regarding the creation and amendment of wills, including those that cater to special needs planning.

The process of updating a Will in New Jersey to include a special needs child may seem daunting but is undeniably crucial. Working with an attorney ensures that your Will is well-updated and addresses any unique challenges you and your child may face.

Steps Involved in Updating Your Will

Updating your NJ Will to include your special needs child would involve steps such as:

  1. Consulting an Attorney: Consult with a New Jersey special needs attorney to discuss your specific needs and options.
  2. Reviewing Existing Will: Your attorney will review your existing Will to determine what changes are required.
  3. Drafting Amendments: Subsequent drafts will incorporate special needs trusts, appointment of guardians, and other important clauses.
  4. Reviewing and Signing: Once the draft is satisfactory, it must be reviewed and signed in the presence of witnesses.

Updating a Will in New Jersey to include a special needs child is a sensitive but essential process. Falcon Law Group has extensive experience crafting wills that meet the stringent requirements of our clients, especially when it involves complex issues like special needs planning. Contact us today for a consultation to ensure that your Will meets the unique needs of your family.

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