Autism seems to be more common these days than ever before. In fact, according to Autism Speaks, roughly one out of every 44 children in the U.S. has some type of autism spectrum disorder. Among boys, the number is one in 27.
If your son is on the autism spectrum, you may have some well-founded fears about his ability to support himself as an adult. After all, autism spectrum disorders often render individuals unable to work and make smart financial decisions.
Your estate plan
As a loving parent, you may want to use your will to leave your son cash or other assets. This approach can be problematic, though, as your gift may push your son over the income threshold for Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and other means-tested government programs.
A special needs trust
There is a solution to this problem, fortunately. As part of your overall estate plan, you likely can establish a special needs trust. With this trust, you set aside funds for your son’s benefit but do not give money or other assets directly to him. Therefore, your son is likely to remain eligible for valuable financial assistance from the government.
Your son’s quality of life
Your son cannot use the special needs trust to pay for living expenses, as government programs typically cover these costs. Funds from the trust can go to expenses that improve your son’s quality of life, however. The trustee who oversees the special needs trust also can help your son find the services and support he needs to thrive.
Ultimately, forming a special needs trust is sure to give your son the financial resources he needs to enjoy life even after you are no longer around to offer your love and support.