ABLE Accounts and Creating a Special Needs Trust in California
ABLE Accounts: Overview
Special Needs Trusts: Overview
Choosing a Trustee
Choosing a Guardian
When it comes to choosing a guardian, Vanessa cautions families against nominating more than one person. If you nominate a couple, for instance, you run the risk of that couple no longer being together when it comes time for them to serve, in which case the guardianship would default to one or the other. The same kind of forward-thinking is necessary when considering far-flung family and friends; if the person you want to serve as a guardian lives overseas, it’s a good idea to name a local first responder until the permanent guardian is in place.
Finally, think carefully about who among your family and friends you trust and why, and what traits you appreciate in them that might make them the best guardian for your child. For example, if your older sister works in a medical field and understands the medical challenges your kiddo faces, she might be a great choice to serve as a guardian; on the other hand, she might make a better adviser if you feel your younger sister’s parenting style more closely matches your own. If your brother is less well versed in disability, or perhaps has no kids of his own, but is very good at organizing and understanding finances, he might make an excellent trustee.
Creating a Letter of Intent
While a letter of instructions or intent is not legally binding, it is the place to be very specific about goals, objectives, ideals — all of the things you want your child’s guardian to be considerate of and focus on.
Think of the letter of intent as the kind of detailed instructions you’d leave a caregiver if you were to leave your child in his or her care for a week. It should include everything from your child’s daily therapy and medication schedule to their favorite movies and how they like to spend their Saturdays. This letter will need to be updated each year as your child grows and his or her needs and schedule change.
Many attorneys will present you with a large three-ring binder containing all of the documents you’ve created together. You should consider adding all pertinent information about your child’s insurance, doctors, medications, therapists, and school records to this binder.
You can read more about what should go into your letter of intent, as well as an excerpt, here.
Choosing a Life Insurance Plan
These are not small decisions, and it’s important to remember that planning for your child’s future doesn’t have to happen all at once. You can make changes to whatever you decide at any point in the process. You can open an ABLE account that you and family members can fund a little bit at a time, and prepare a simple will on your own that includes a letter of intent to help lay the groundwork for a trust, whether pooled or third-party. Similarly, if you choose a low-cost life insurance plan now, you can upgrade it later. Whichever path you choose, you’ll have peace of mind in knowing you’ve begun the process of planning for your child’s future to ensure they can get the quality of life, love, and support they deserve.