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Should you appoint a guardian for your special needs child in your will?

Your child is getting older, and though you had hoped that they’d be able to live on their own and function normally in society, the reality is that they will always need help. They don’t understand how to take care of their finances, and despite their best efforts, they need support with their daily chores and activities as well.

As long as your child is a minor, you can set up a guardianship in your will. The guardianship’s goal is to make sure that someone is assigned to take over your child’s care if you cannot be there anymore. For example, if your child is 14 when you pass away, they won’t legally be able to care for themselves and will need a guardian. Without one, they could go on to foster care or a special needs facility.

Can you assign a guardian in your estate plan for a child who is an adult but not yet under your guardianship?

This is a tricky situation that you should discuss with your attorney. If you will seek guardianship after your child is 18, then you should include guardianship information in your estate plan. If you aren’t going to be your adult child’s guardian, then it may not be your decision to make. This is something your attorney can go over with you if your child is approaching their 18th birthday, so you’re prepared for what may come in the future. There are many types of guardians and conservators, so you may have more options than you think.

If you don’t have a will yet, now is a good time to get started. Whether you have a child with special needs or multiple children with varied needs, it’s essential to discuss guardianship concerns with your attorney. You should assign guardians to each of your children, so they will be cared for if you pass away. Without this protection, there is no guarantee that someone in your family will step in to care for them or that they won’t end up with a relative or someone unrelated who you wouldn’t have selected yourself.