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Protect your autistic child with a special needs trust

Two decades ago, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome were the most common disabilities parents had to plan for when having children. These days, however, due to prenatal testing and better prenatal care, rates of both of these conditions have gone down. The rates of children being born with Autism Spectrum Disorders, however, has increased substantially. Roughly 1 in every 68 children born in the United States has some form of autism, though the severity and existence of co-morbid conditions varies in every case. If you have an autistic child, you need to take special steps to protect your child.

Protecting a child with autism can mean finding the right school district and therapist to help your child reach his or her fullest potential. It can also mean creating a special needs trust to protect your child socially and financially in case you either die or suffer an incapacitating medical event or accident. A special needs trust can help ensure that your child will have the financial support needed to live a healthy and safe life when you are no longer around to provide for your child. Working with an experienced Florida probate and estate attorney is critical to protecting your autistic child.

Why a special needs trust makes sense

You may think that all you need to do is name your autistic child as primary beneficiary to your estate or create a last will that evenly shares your assets among all of your children, including your autistic child. Unfortunately, in Florida, any estate plan or last will can be contested in probate court, no matter how carefully constructed it is. Siblings or other family members or heirs could convince the courts to reallocate assets that you intended for the protection and well-being of your autistic child. In some cases, autism itself could be used as a reason why your child shouldn't be in control of finances.

A trust lets you appoint one or several people that you trust to ensure that funds intended for your autistic child are actually used to help him or her. Unlike a simple last will, a special needs trust can place very strict limits on how and when funds are used. This, in turn, can help ensure that your autistic child has access to financial support and social support for the rest of his or her life. There's no better way to protect your autistic child in the event of your death or incapacitation than the creation of a legally sound special needs trust that has adequate funding for a lifetime of medical and social needs.

Your child trusts you, and you deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing your beloved child will have the care and financial resources needed to live a healthy and safe life. Speak with an experienced Florida estate and probate attorney today about setting up a special needs trust for your child.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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