If you have a child who has Down Syndrome, you may have some valid concerns about his or her ability to work in the future. Not being able to find gainful employment, of course, may make it virtually impossible for the young one in your family to pay living expenses as an adult.
While you can support your child financially during your life, you probably also want your estate plan to provide for him or her after your death. Giving your son or daughter money or other assets, though, may make him ineligible for certain beneficial government programs.
Qualifying for government benefits
Government programs, like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, offer financial support to many low-income individuals. While somewhat meager, this financial support helps to cover living expenses including rent, utilities, groceries and basic medical care. To qualify for government help, though, individuals must have limited wealth.
Preserving eligibility for need-based help
If you gift money to your son or daughter, he or she may have too many assets to qualify for government aid. To preserve your child’s eligibility, you may want to explore a special needs trust. This type of trust gives your child access to funds for certain expenses while preserving his or her eligibility for need-based help. Money in a special needs trust usually does not count as income or assets for purposes of qualifying for government assistance.
Ultimately, by using your estate plan to improve your child’s quality of life without endangering government help, you may ensure your son or daughter continues to thrive even after your death.