Planning Your Estate When You Have One Heir with a Disability and One Heir Who Isn't Disabled

Estate planning can happen in many forms. The bottom line is that you have to decide what to do with your assets once you are gone. Whether you leave a life-insurance policy to one heir and a bank account to another is up to you. If you die without a will, and you have two children, both will inherit half of your estate. If the estate includes plenty of property, the property may need to be liquidated before money is distributed. While you may want to leave half of your wealth to each heir, it's important to protect your disabled heir to ensure their benefits remain in place.

You Can Use a Special-Needs Trust

When you have an heir with a disability, the best way to protect their share of the inheritance is to create a special-needs trust. This is a trust that is designed to provide supplemental care to your loved one, not provide for their everyday needs. If a disabled heir receives a large sum of cash, any benefits they are receiving may stop. This will be disruptive to their overall care, and they will need to apply for services again once their money runs out. If your money isn't going to cover all of their needs for the rest of their life, a special-needs trust is the answer.

You Can Will Half of Your Estate to Your Non-Disabled Child

Half of your estate can go directly to your non-disabled child in the form of cash or property. If your adult child is working and doesn't rely on any social-security disability benefits, then they can inherit cash and handle their own affairs. While you can leave the same percentage of your estate to each child, how they receive the money might need to be very different.

You Need to Learn How Funds in a Special-Needs Trust are Accessed

A special-needs trust is a fund set up specifically for your disabled adult child in an effort to give them comfort, joy, and experiences they may not have been able to have living on disability payments. The money is usually controlled by a trustee, but what the money can be used for is generally a wide variety of things. The heir, or an individual working on their behalf, submits a request for money for a specific issue to the trustee, and the trustee provides the money from the trust. A special-needs trust can be used to cover vacations, clothing, and just about anything that the individual the trust was left for needs or wants.

Visit a firm such as Acton & Snyder, LLP to find a lawyer to discuss your case with.