Conservatorship and Trust Planning for Your Child with IDD
Estate planning is a gift that you provide for the people you love. It also gives you peace of mind, knowing the people you care about will be financially secure in the future.
Parents of children with IDD have unique concerns when it comes to estate planning. You want to make sure your child will always have personal guidance and financial assistance.
There are complicated laws that govern eligibility for social services such as Medical and SSI. Strategic trust planning will help ensure that your child will live comfortably while remaining eligible for essential services.
It’s a good idea to start thinking about your child’s future as soon as possible. A great way to start is to design a trust and arrange a conservatorship to protect your child with disabilities.
What Is a Conservatorship?
A conservatorship is a legal arrangement where a judge appoints someone to act or make decisions for a person who needs help managing their own care and finances. The conservator is usually a family member or close friend. The goal of a conservatorship is to provide the conservatee with as much independence and self-reliance as possible while making sure their financial and personal needs are accounted for.
In California, a conservator for an adult with IDD has the following duties and responsibilities:
- Arranging the conservatee’s residence
- Fiduciary responsibility over the conservatee’s assets
- Overseeing the conservatee’s confidential records or papers
- Entering into contracts on the conservatee’s behalf
- Providing consent for medical treatment
- Making decisions regarding the conservatee’s education
If you have a child with IDD, you’ll want to begin arranging for a conservatorship before they turn 18. Your attorney can help file for a conservatorship and develop a succession plan for the future. It takes about four months to arrange a conservatorship for an adult with special needs in California. The process includes the following steps:
- The prospective conservator will file a petition with the court.
- A court investigator will speak with the conservatee.
- A conservator hearing will be held.
- The conservator will attend training.
- A court order will establish a conservatorship.
What Is IDD?
Intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) describes a variety of chronic disorders that originate before birth or during childhood and involve varying forms of intellectual or developmental disability. This includes severe or chronic conditions that are associated with mental and/or physical impairment.
A child with IDD may require assistance with the following:
- Language development
- Emotional development
- Learning and problem solving
- Social skills
- Adaptive behavior
- Life skills
- Independent living
Establishing a Trust for Your Child with IDD
For a person with IDD, eligibility for SSI, medical, and other benefits is means-tested. That’s why it’s essential to structure a trust that allows your child to remain eligible for public benefits. If your child’s trust isn’t structured correctly, the government may charge them extra to receive public services, or these services may be denied.
A special needs trust (SNT) is the best way to protect your child’s financial future. Because the trust is officially in charge of your child’s assets, means testing for government benefits will not be required. A well-designed SNT allows your child to receive the government assistance they require and still retain enough income to cover living expenses such as:
- Medical care
- Dental care
- Medical equipment
Are You and Your Child with Special Needs Getting the Help You Need?
Woodsmall Law Group is committed to serving children and adults with special needs and their parents in Los Angeles County, focusing on the San Gabriel Valley. We have been helping families make the most out of their educational opportunities for over 18 years.
Our firm also provides assistance with conservatorship, estate planning, and trust administration for families of children with special needs.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s placement or the services they are receiving, please call us at (626) 440-0028 to schedule a free initial consultation. We speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Polish, and Spanish.