Did you know April is World Autism Month? This is a time to promote autism awareness, inclusion, and self-determination for all, and assure that each person with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life. For families with loved ones on the autism spectrum, understanding the complexity of special needs planning is paramount. Special needs planning is more than just a legal task; it is a crucial step toward securing a bright and secure future for individuals with autism. 

This type of estate planning ensures your loved one will continue to receive the care and support they need, without jeopardizing their eligibility for vital government benefits like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). We cannot highlight enough the importance of not only creating a special needs plan within your Florida estate plan, but ensuring that it stays current and up-to-date. Just a few of the reasons why you want to work hand in hand with your experienced estate planning attorney include, but are not limited to, the following reasons right here:

  • Special needs planning is dynamic; what works today may not be suitable tomorrow. Laws change, as do individual circumstances and the needs of your loved one with autism. 
  • Legislation affecting Medicaid, SSI, and other benefits can change, impacting eligibility and benefits. Regular reviews with an estate planning attorney knowledgeable about special needs planning can help navigate these changes effectively.
  • As individuals with autism age, their needs, preferences, and life situations can shift dramatically. A plan set up for a child may need adjustments as they transition to adulthood.

A critical aspect of special needs planning for a loved one with autism involves ensuring they do not lose eligibility for government benefits, which often provides for their medical care and certain types of personal support. A properly structured Special Needs Trust can hold assets for the benefit of your loved one without affecting their eligibility for benefits. The trust can pay for expenses not covered by government programs, enhancing your loved one’s quality of life. Further, for individuals who may not be able to 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.

Special needs planning for a loved one with autism requires a thoughtful, personalized approach. By ensuring 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, let’s renew our commitment to making informed, compassionate choices that uplift and support individuals with autism throughout their lives.

We know this article raises more questions than it answers. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey.  We do telephone, computer, and face-to-face appointments. Our face-to-face appointments are held outside in the open air (frequently selected by clients for document signing) and inside our office conference room. We follow all CDC guidelines. Our office procedures adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and are designed and enhanced by medical review and air quality engineering. We encourage you to contact us to schedule a meeting.