Considering Special Needs Children In Your Will.

April 2, 2013 | Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped,Wills and Special Needs Beneficiaries

I recently had a couple come into my office who wanted to review their Wills with a view to updating them if need be. When I looked at their completed Questionnaires I noticed they had a 19 year old child who had special needs. Their previous Wills divided everything equally amongst this son and his two siblings, stating that they were to get their respective shares when each was 21. The problem that I saw was that the special needs son was to get his share “in his hands” when he turned 21. The share was a significant amount of cash in hand because of the couple’s life insurance policies. The special needs son was also receiving government benefits (Assured income for the Severely Handicapped or AISH) which could have been negatively affected had the Wills not addressed this properly. I recommended working it out such that this child’s share would be held in a discretionary trust. This would allow the Executor and Trustee to manage the funds in a way that maximizes government benefits while allowing the inheritance to be used for his needs at the same time (AISH or an inheritance on its own does not guarantee quality of life). I also discussed AISH exemptions and Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP’s) with them.

If you have a special needs child or beneficiary that you want to consider in your Will you need to consider how an inheritance will affect the ongoing eligibility for benefits or programs they currently enjoy. There are often ways of using trusts or other arrangements to make sure that an inheritance provides the additional benefits that are intended. I’m always happy to help clients make those arrangements.