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McCurrie McCurrie
& McCurrie, L.L.C.

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Wills for special needs children key in New Jersey

At the close of a year, many New Jersey residents begin to make goals for the upcoming year. For many families, those goals include drafting wills. For families with special needs children, estate planning can be even more important to ensure that all aspects of the child's future are properly secured in the event of the premature death of his or her parents.

There are many aspects to estate planning that parents may benefit from, including public benefit requirements, trusts, policy benefits and guardianship. The first step is often establishing a long-term plan for how parents would like their special needs child cared for after their death. One important consideration is understanding the child's overall physical and mental needs for both the short term and long term. By doing so, parents can better understand what public benefits may be available to their child..

The financial aspect of estate planning is another serious consideration. One of the most beneficial avenues for saving money is establishing a special needs trust. With a trust, money can easily be saved, and funds can be easily added through policy beneficiary status. Additionally, money secured in a trust does not contribute toward overall income for the family, so the child has a better chance of securing public benefits.

Another important aspect of estate planning, and one that affects all aspects of the plan, is determining who will become the guardian of a special needs child in the event that his or her parents die prematurely. It is crucial to a successful estate plan to select a candidate who will be capable of managing the child's physical and financial needs. Parents also should carefully select a candidate they trust to be a positive influence and involved in the child's life.

While each of the above factors are important, there is one aspect of wills that New Jersey residents can be confident will ease their journey, and that is ensuring that the right team of support is in place. During estate planning, understanding and protecting the legal rights of a special needs child is as important as ensuring that he or she has the benefits needed. With the right team of support in place, estate planning can be a smooth, highly successful endeavor, and parents can enter the new year with peace of mind.

Source: Sun Sentinel, Plan for the future care of your special needs child the right way, Elise Rodriguez, Dec. 20, 2013

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