Being a parent comes with many challenges. Certainly, one of the most emotionally fraught challenges is thinking about what will happen to your child after you pass. Often, parents put off dealing with estate planning because they do not want to think about their passing or the process looks daunting. Creating a plan for your child after you pass becomes more important when your child has a disability. The choices that you make or do not make can have a lasting impact on your child and his ability to receive benefits after you are gone.
Note that we are not attorneys, and this does not take the place of advice from a trusted and experienced disability attorney.
Disability Estate Planning Tips
- First, create a filing system. The first step is to decide what type of system works best for you. Since this will hold your and your child’s personal information, you should be mindful of security. Your system can be online or in a traditional file folder. You can store the files on your computer or with an online cloud if you prefer a digital solution. Do your research before deciding which program is best for you. We use dropbox for its security, but it is a costly solution. Consider investing in a safe if you decide on an accordion file or another paper filing system. Create a folder for yourself, your spouse or partner, and each child.
- Next, create a Series of Documents in Your Files. Make a document each for yourself, your spouse or partner, and each child.
- Also, Personal Information. This should include names, nicknames, birthdates, places of birth, social security numbers, and addresses.
- Emergency Contacts. Include information for your spouse/partner, children, siblings, and parents and the name of the person that you want to care for your child in case of an emergency.
- Medical History and Health Insurance. Make a list of all medical providers, medical history, and health insurance information. Include the names and numbers of primary care providers, specialists, medications, allergies, insurance companies, policy numbers, and Medicaid and Medicare information in this list.
- Education Information. It is worthwhile to include information about your child’s IEP if your child is in school. This should include the name of his school counselor or teacher.
- Personal Financial Information. Document each source and amount of income (employment, social security, SSI, etc.). List each asset and its value. Include the names of any advisors. List all recurring bills. For your child, include information for his representative payee accounts and trust accounts if you have them.
- Attorney Information. List the information for attorneys you work with and any beneficiaries, trustees, guardians, etc., listed in your legal documents.
- Logins and Passwords. List account logins and passwords for all online accounts, including those your child uses (email, banks, insurance, social media, cloud storage, etc.). Include the answers to security questions. Of course, it is important to keep this information safe as it is highly personal but tell a trusted person where it is and how to access it.
- Finally, collect documents for each family member. In addition to the documents that you created above, include in your files birth certificates, social security cards, marriage licenses, spouse’s death certificates, deeds, automobiles titles, divorce decrees, insurance policies, stock certificates, military service records, most recent tax returns, and any prepaid burial plot receipts. In addition, include copies of statements for your child’s social security accounts and trust accounts. Legal documents such as your will, durable power of attorney, advanced health care directives, etc., are also important to include.
The next step is to find an attorney! Click here for our tips.