Why are legal documents necessary to ensure a special needs child will receive appropriate health care?
Since many special needs children may not be able to advocate for their own health care, parents need to have the right legal documents in place to ensure that medical care continues into their adulthood and beyond, or in case their parents become unavailable. Parents of a special needs child may want to set up an estate plan to cover not only their child’s future care, but also their own.
Parents need to consider who will make medical and financial decisions for their child when their child becomes an adult or in their absence, as well as who will pay for the care. The right legal documents can ensure these issues are decided by the parents and child, rather than the courts. It can also make sure there are no delays if an urgent situation arises.
What legal documents can help a parent with a special needs child?
Legal documents are an essential tool for protecting a special needs child’s interests in a parent's absence or as they become adults. The types of documents range from basic to legally complex, and parents should not hesitate to ask a lawyer for help, even on the most basic documents.
Leaving a special needs child in someone else’s care, even temporarily, can be scary. Providing detailed Child Care Instructions can help provide both parents and childcare providers with peace of mind. This can also keep care consistent when there are multiple childcare providers. Parents can also give a childcare provider the ability to seek medical treatment for a child in their absence by signing a Consent for Medical Treatment of a Minor.
For more robust protection, creating a Power of Attorney for Child gives a trusted individual the right to make medical and healthcare decisions for a child if their parent(s) become unavailable or unable to do so. If a child is unable to care for themselves, or may become unable in the future, parents should consider naming a legal guardian. Parents need to make sure the person chosen as a guardian is willing to take on the tasks of long-term care, including overseeing any medical care they might need and helping with financial decisions. It can be the same or a different person as a power of attorney, depending on the goals and needs.
Parents can always reach out to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney for assistance in tailoring these documents to their specific needs and to comply with the varying legal requirements in each state.
How can parents protect their special needs child’s inheritance?
Planning for the future for a special needs child includes planning for their financial future as well as for their care. Setting up a Special Needs Trust can provide extra financial help for a special needs child while still letting them qualify for needs-based government benefits.
Parents can deposit an unlimited amount of assets into a Special Needs Trust, which a child and their trustee can use to pay for the child’s needs and care after parents become unable to do so. These types of trusts limit how the funds may be used, ensuring that a special needs child’s inheritance does not jeopardize any public benefits they may receive, and the trust may be used to supplement their care.
How can a parent give permission to someone else to make emergency medical decisions for their special needs child?
Parents may be used to making medical decisions for their special needs child, but when parents are unavailable to make them, caregivers can be given limited authorization to make certain decisions. Signing a Consent for Medical Treatment of a Minor document can help parents ensure someone is always available to make those decisions when needed, and help provide that individual with guidance to make the right decision. It may be a good idea to sign such a document for trusted caretakers or family members.
If you have questions about the right legal documents for your family, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney for answers.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.