Wills, Trusts & Lasting Power of Attorney
As a parent of a child with a disability, it’s important to plan for their future in the event that something happens to you. While it may be difficult to think about, making these plans now can help ensure that your children are taken care of and gives you peace of mind knowing that they will be looked after by somebody you trust.
Having specialised in Wills for families whose members have disabilities, I know that the importance of having a Will, Trust and LPA is second-to-none. My brother, Gary, has Angelman Syndrome and lives in a house with 10 other people, most of whom have lost their parents. My parents were lucky enough to be able to put things in place so that Gary would be cared for when they passed, however many other families – like those Gary lives with – were not fortunate enough to be able to afford this.
That is why I aim to advocate for families of those with disabilities, especially when they may be at a financial disadvantage. I want to show them that we can help them secure their future, protect their child and protect their estate without breaking the bank.
Firstly, you need to put a Will in place so that you get to choose who benefits from your estate. If you don’t, this decision will be in the hands of the courts (Laws of intestacy), which I know I certainly wouldn’t want to happen. You also need to put named guardians in place, so that in the event of your untimely death, you have chosen who you want to look after your children rather than social services, again- who wants that to happen? Certainly not me!
Secondly, leaving your estate to a disabled child can have a few different consequences. One of the main consequences you will need to take into account is any state benefits that your child is receiving. If your child is receiving state benefits, they may lose those benefits if they inherit your estate directly, you must set up a trust to protect their inheritance and state benefits. Once you’ve lost your benefits, you (in this case your appointed guardian) would have to apply for them again, and nobody fights like a parent for their child’s benefits!
By setting up a Trust in your Will, you can protect their inheritance and any affected benefits. A Discretionary Trust can be an excellent way of providing for a disabled child, particularly if they are likely to need care and support in adulthood. One of the main advantages of a discretionary trust is that it can protect your child’s inheritance from being taken into account when means tested benefits are calculated. The last thing you would want is for your child to lose their benefits in the event of your passing when you have fought so hard to get them. However, there are some potential implications that you should be aware of before setting one up. The trustee has discretion over how the trust fund is used, so it is important to choose a trustee who is reliable to act in your child’s best interests.
Lastly, you should consider putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place. If you were to lose capacity whilst alive, you would want somebody you trust to be making your decisions for you, rather than the courts. It doesn’t matter whether you’re married or unmarried, your partner cannot automatically assume the rights and so a Lasting Power of Attorney must be put in place. This makes things so much easier if you were to lose your capacity and also means your children would have somebody trusting to make decisions on their behalf too. If you would like more information about how I might be able to help you, then don’t hesitate to contact me today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org