With  World Autism Month in April, did you know this is an opportunity to become more knowledgeable about autism, inclusion, and self-determination for all, including your loved one with autism? We need to be sure that each person with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life. As a  family with a loved one on the autism spectrum, understanding the complexity of special needs planning is important. Special needs planning is much  more than a legal task; it is a crucial step toward securing a bright and secure future for your loved one with autism. 

What is important about this type of estate planning? It ensures that your loved one with autism will continue to receive the care and support they need, without jeopardizing their eligibility for vital government benefits like Medi-Cal or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). We cannot emphasize enough the importance of not only creating a special needs plan within your California estate plan, but also being sure that it stays current and up-to-date. We want to point out a few reasons why you should work hand in hand with your experienced California estate planning attorney including, but not limited to, the following reasons:

  • Be aware that special needs planning is dynamic. What does that mean? It means that what works today may not be suitable for tomorrow. Laws change, as do individual circumstances and the needs of your loved one with autism. 
  • Be aware that legislation affecting Medi-Cal, SSI, and other benefits can change. What does that mean?   It means that  eligibility and benefits could be impacted.  However, regular reviews with your estate planning attorney who is knowledgeable about special needs planning can help navigate these changes effectively.
  • Be aware that as your loved one with autism ages, their needs, preferences, and life situations can shift dramatically. What does that mean? It means that your plan set up for a child may need adjustments as they transition to adulthood.

Is there a critical aspect of special needs planning for your loved one with autism? Yes, it involves making sure they do not lose their eligibility for government benefits, which often provides for their medical care and certain types of personal support. This is where a properly structured Special Needs Trust can hold assets for the benefit of your loved one without affecting their eligibility for benefits. This trust can pay for expenses not covered by government programs, enhancing your loved one’s quality of life. In addition, if your loved one cannot make decisions for themselves, establishing guardianship or conservatorship may be essential. This legal process allows a designated person to make decisions on behalf of your loved one.

As you can readily see, special needs planning for a loved one with autism requires a thoughtful, personalized approach. By being sure that your plan is current and meticulously designed to preserve long-term care benefits, you can provide for your loved one’s needs without compromising their financial security or access to essential services. During World Autism Month and throughout the year, we need to renew our commitment to making informed, compassionate choices that uplift and support our loved ones and other individuals with autism throughout their lives.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers.  Do you have questions? We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. Our office is here for you and your loved ones. Please call us to schedule a meeting time.