Allocation of Assets to a Special Needs Trust

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In preparing a Will, parents of a special needs child must give careful thought as to how to divide up their assets among multiple children. In deciding how to allocate resources, consideration should be given to the financial needs of each child, the ability of each child to support himself or herself both currently and in the future and the message sent to children in the decision of how to divide assets. There is no right or wrong answer but the general default rule of estate planning to leave assets equally to children should not be an assumption which is accepted without careful consideration.

When all children are very young, often assets are divided equally among children since all children are dependent at that time. As children get older, where a special needs child will have a large portion of his or her needs met through government assistance and may not have the expensive lifestyle of other children, some parents cap the amount allocated to that child (after ensuring sufficient assets are available to supplement monies from government assistance to provide the lifestyle the parent wants for such child) with the balance of the assets distributed to the other children.

Alternatively, parents may decide that other children will be able to support themselves in the future so a larger share of the estate should be allocated to a special needs child.

In considering this issue, the value of the assets to be divided up must be considered as well as the anticipated expense of each of the children and potential sources of payment of these expenses (earned income, governmental benefits, potential outside inheritances, to name a few). Further, since all of these variables change over time, the decision on how to allocate assets among children should be revisited every few years.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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