Georgia's Trusted Healthcare
& Medical Provider Attorneys

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Hire A Lawyer For Your Will vs. Using An Online Service

Online Will Hire Attorney Jeyaram Georgia TrustRecently we saw an article – written by a non lawyer – recommending individuals and families complete their wills online as a way to save money.

However, there are several major flaws with this “money-saving approach” and online wills could ultimately end up costing an individual or family significantly more money than what they initially intended to pay.

Top 10 Reasons Why Lawyers Should Help You Write Your Will

  1. Experienced estate planning attorneys will create personalized plans for you based on a vast array of estate planning tools that “do-it-yourself” online wills do not consider.
  2. Online wills provide you with generic “one-size-fits-all” documents that are not tailored to your specific needs. Your life is not a one-size-fits-all and your will should reflect that.
  3. When partnering with a lawyer, you are able to include specific details and information that the online forms do not allow you to include due to space limitations or lack of fields on the forms.
  4. Online services also try to “up sell” customers through the process – the low cost offer is often a “hook” for more expensive packages. Almost all estate planning attorneys offer an upfront, flat fee for their wills.
  5. As your life situations change, your lawyer can easily help you update and change your legal plan as needed so that it best protects your loved ones and assets. Online forms cannot provide the guidance or recommendations attorneys can.
  6. Attorneys will have seen literally hundreds of cases and will be able to help you make informed decisions and avoid pitfalls they have seen in other cases.
  7. An attorney will help you identify ways to minimize your tax liabilities upon your passing. Online will services typically do not provide this feature.
  8. If you need something more than a basic will, such as a trust or special needs trust, online services often cannot address the complexity involved in these legal matters.
  9. Online forms cannot provide you guidance or help you think through important decisions such as who you should select as a guardian or trustee. An experienced attorney will help you think through the process and help you make a decision that you’re comfortable with.
  10. Most importantly, when it’s time for your will to be executed, your family will need to hire an attorney. If your family already has an established relationship with an experienced estate planning attorney, this is one less thing for a grieving – and often overwhelmed – family to have to deal with upon your passing.

A Will Should NOT Be A One Size Fits All 

When it comes to protecting your family and assets, we recommend investing in the process of writing your will and partnering with an attorney to prevent any future headaches or heartaches.

When you meet with an estate planning attorney, they will talk to you about your life, your family, your wishes and desires. They’ll also talk to you about your assets, your desires for how they should be distributed and what the best ways are to minimize tax liabilities. Online wills cannot provide this guidance.

Your life is not generic – neither should your will.

We Can Help

We’ve helped hundreds of families create and update their wills and trusts to best reflect and protect their families and assets.

When you meet with us, we carefully listen to your unique needs and will create a customized will or trust based on those needs and your wishes. We’re here to help you create a plan that gives you peace of mind. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

Creating A Special Needs Trust Is Easier Than You Think

Special Needs Trust, Attorney, Georgia, Atlanta, Duluth, Jeyaram & AssociatesWe all know putting into place a will and special needs trust is extremely important to help protect our special needs child now and in the future.

But with all the doctors appointments, therapies, calls to the insurance company and specialists, school work and not to mention laundry, bath time and meal preparation, finding the time to put into place a will and special needs trust seems impossible.

On most days, we’re lucky if we get to drink our cup of coffee while it’s still lukewarm. (I know I gave up the hope of drinking hot coffee a long time ago!)

No, Really. It’s Easier Than You Think

However putting into place a special needs trust really is easier than you think, and the process simply starts with a phone call or an email. Seriously. A phone call or email. That’s it.

When you call us, we’ll get your name and email address and then you’ll receive a questionnaire to complete. Don’t worry – it’s not like applying for a home loan or taking the SAT. And the good news is, you’ll already know most – if not all – of the answers.

Seriously, we ask things like your name, address, your child’s name and disability, a list of your assets, and whom you’d like to take care of your child if something were to happen to you.

No Right Or Wrong Answers

Most of these are answers we can recite in our sleep. No prep needed and there are no right or wrong answers. Further, don’t worry if you don’t know all the answers or if you have questions (like whom you should name as your child’s guardian). We’re here to help you, and we will guide you through the process to ensure that the special needs trust best meets your family’s needs.

Once you complete the form, I’ll review it and follow up with you if I have any questions. And then, a draft of your will and the special needs trust is created and sent to you to review.

We’re Here To Help You

We know you’re busy and adding one more thing to your “to-do” list seems daunting. But setting up a special needs trust is an important legal document to help protect your family and child with special needs. My email address is DJ@JeyLaw.com or you can call me at 678.325.3872. And when you come to the office to sign your will and special needs trust, I’ll have a hot cup of coffee waiting for you. 🙂

How To Choose A Trustee

Trustee, Trust, Will, Estate Planning, Attorney, Lawyer, Jeyaram, Georgia, AtlantaWhen you set up a trust to protect your assets and finances, one of the most important decisions you will make is who will serve as your trustee.

The trustee (or trustees) is someone who will manage your money and property if you become incapacitated (living will) or for the benefit of others after you pass.

The trustee has a lot of authority, so it’s important to select someone you not only trust and have great confidence in, but also:

  • Makes smart financial decisions
  • Is responsible
  • Can meet deadlines (ex. paying bills on time and filing taxes)
  • Has a healthy relationship with your family
  • Is good at communicating as many decisions and ongoing conversations will need to occur.

Trustees are most often a family member or an institution. Following are some benefits and disadvantages to both:

Family Member

Perhaps the biggest benefits of selecting a family member as a trustee is that they may not charge you a fee to be the trustee and most likely, they have a good understanding of how your family works and what it needs.

However, on the flip side, if you choose a family member to be the trustee it could lead to conflict or resentment especially if there is a separate guardian involved for a minor child or disabled adult. Further, the family member may not have financial prowess and may need to hire someone to help them.

Finally, the family member could become incapacitated, get divorced or pass away. As a result, if you select a family member as a trustee, it’s important to name a successor trustee.

An Institution

If you choose a bank or financial institution as the trustee, there is stability (it most likely won’t die) and more likely financial acumen than a family member. The bank can handle any investments, tax preparations, management, and accounting of the trust’s finances. Further, the bank is regulated by federal laws and uninvolved in family politics.

The downside of naming a bank or financial institution as a trustee is cost. Sometimes banks have a minimum fee. This may make banks cost-prohibitive for small trusts. Further, while the bank may not die, employees at the bank can change frequently making it difficult to build relationships.

Still Not Sure?

Choosing the right trustee is an important decision and can be stressful as there are many factors to consider. However, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you determine whether a family member or an institution will be the best choice for you based on your wants and family’s needs.

We’re Here To Help

DJ Jeyaram is an experienced estate planning attorney who specializes in helping families create trusts – including identifying the best trustee – to meet their needs and situations.

You will work directly with DJ in creating a will or trust that reflects your family. DJ can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

Do Your Loved Ones Know What You Want If You Become Incapacitated? Do You?

will trusts estate planning incapacitatedSpecial blog post by Cassandra Jeyaram, PhD

The week before Thanksgiving, my 90-year-old grandfather passed away at his home. I am so thankful I was able to spend his last few days, hours and minutes with him.

Although he was incapacitated and could not talk, open his eyes or move his body, he knew I was there. I talked to him about his hometown of Winooski, Vermont, played his favorite CDs and told him some bad jokes, at which he managed a half smile on several occasions.

I shared with him how he taught me how to ice skate, fish (and subsequently get a fishing hook out of my belly button) and how to eat watermelon. I rubbed his feet, held his hands, and tried to make sure he was as comfortable as possible.

This Is An Important Conversation To Have With Loved Ones

It was during these last few precious moments with my grandfather that I realized I had never thought about what I would want during my final moments if I were incapacitated. Being incapacitated is something my family never discussed. Although it’s a conversation no ones like to have, it’s an important one.

Upon returning home after my grandfather’s passing, my husband and I sat down to update our wills and document in detail what we both wanted if we were incapacitated.

I would love a view of nature, classical music gently playing in the background and soft blankets. We also wrote down that if someone became upset while visiting me, they would be asked to leave the room. I know my heart would break hearing/seeing/feeling someone I love upset. I included this as I watched my grandmother sobbing over my grandfather with her tears falling on his face.

I can only imagine the heartbreak both of them were feeling after being married 69 years. I could sense my grandfather was holding on for my grandmother and only when my grandmother peacefully fell asleep on the couch next to him did he finally let go.

Some Things To Think About

When we think about “Estate Plans,” we often only think about our wills and what happens if we die. But an important part of our estate plans are our wishes of what we would want to hear, see or feel if we are incapacitated. Some things to consider are, where do you want to be? At home? In a hospital? What sounds or sights would you like? Do you have a favorite CD? Movie? Do you want your pet to be with you? Who would you like to visit you?

While these questions are not exhaustive, they are designed to help you to start thinking about your wishes if you become incapacitated and are unable to communicate. There are no right or wrong answers. It’s what you want.

As I look back on my grandfather’s life and this post, I realize my grandfather taught me many things, including that I need to communicate and document my final wishes.

Documenting Your Final Wishes

If you’d like help with your final wishes, DJ can help guide you through the process and make sure they are a part of your will or estate plan. He can be reached at 678.325.3872 or DJ@JeyLaw.com.

 

Why You Want To Avoid Probate

Wills Trusts Estate Planning Attorney Avoid ProbateProbate

It’s a word we often hear when we’re talking about wills or special needs trusts – but what does it mean? And why does everyone tell you to avoid it at all possible costs?

Probate is the formal legal process that occurs after someone passes. Probate involves proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid and it’s the process of distributing the deceased person’s property. If the deceased had a will, the legal process is usually straight forward with little room for dispute and can be handled by your family attorney.

However, when someone passes and they did not leave a will or trust in place, that’s when things can get complicated and costly, and to be honest, sometimes the probate process can get really ugly. Without a will, the court will appoint an administrator for your estate – this could be anyone – to gather and distribute someone’s assets according to law. Sound simple? Not so much, and here’s why.

It May Seem Unfair

The process of divvying up someone’s assets can be a lengthy and complex process. And ultimately, without a will in place, the end result dictated by law could seem unfair to the deceased’s family. Most people’s assumption on how everything will be divided under the law is usually wrong.

Many of my married clients that have children assume that when they pass, 100% their estate will go to their spouse and when that spouse passes everything will go to their kids. In Georgia, this is incorrect.

In Georgia, the estate is divided evenly between the spouse and the kids (with the spouses the share is no less than 1/3). If your kids are 18 years or older then they get their share outright and not in a trust! Every state has its own criteria of how assets should be distributed if someone passes without a will.

As a result, family members may feel short changed or even worse, they could end up empty handed. This is one of the reasons having a will in place is so important. Wills clearly spell out who should get what, when and how.

It Takes A LONG Time

Further, most probate cases take anywhere from 6 months to a few years. If there are questions or disputes about the estate – it can take even longer. As a result, the family or individuals who stand to inherit the assets will have to wait a long time until the issues are resolved.

This can be a challenge for spouses or loved ones who need that money to pay bills. This could leave them in a financial pinch. With a will, assets – including money in bank accounts – can be distributed relatively quickly.

It Can Be Expensive

Not only is it a lengthy process, but it can be a costly process for those left behind. Though costs will vary from state to state, according to the American Bar Association, probate and administrative fees are estimated to be 6% and 10% of a person’s estate.

That can be a bit of money – and that assessment is made on the gross estate – before any fees are taken out. So the final inheritance will be less than what the deceased had intended. So while we may feel like creating a will is expensive, not having one in place when we pass can be even more costly.

Personal Life Becomes Public Record

And it’s just not the financial cost. There are personal costs too. Without a will in place, the deceased’s assets and their life are reviewed by the courts. As a result, everything becomes a matter of public record. So anyone – yes anyone – including your nosy neighbor, can go to the courthouse and find out what and how much the deceased left behind. This includes any outstanding debts or liens.

During this time, long lost relatives or secret relations may be exposed. This could be embarrassing and devastating for some families. Further, there are investment advisors or real estate investors or other less-than-ethical individuals who will want to “help” the family when in reality they’re just after the deceased’s assets. Having a will or trust in place allows families to keep family matters private and out of unintended “eyes.”

Easier To Put A Plan Into Place Now

Finding the time to put a will or trust into place is often a low priority. However, it should be a top priority as the probate process can be long, cumbersome and expensive. By putting a plan into place today, you’re saving your loved ones a lot of time, expense and heartache.

We’ve helped hundreds of families put into place wills or trusts that best meet their needs and protect their loved ones. It’s a straight-forward questionnaire and we’ll guide you through the entire process. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

 

The Easiest New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep: Create A Will

Wills Trusts and Estates New Years ResolutionWith the holidays behind us, many of are making resolutions to eat better, exercise more, get more sleep and try to balance our work and personal lives in the new year.

However, one of the most important resolutions we can make is often left off our list – writing a will. Putting into place a will or estate plan is perhaps one of the easiest and fastest resolutions you can check off your list!

Who Needs A Will?

Everyone. No matter your age, financial situation, marital status or stage in life needs a will, trust, or estate plan. Estate planning will benefit your loved ones by ensuring that your assets are properly distributed the way you want – not the way a court decides.

Why Do You Need A Will?

  • If you have minor children and don’t have a legal plan in place when you place, a court will decide who will care for them.
  • You’ve worked hard for your assets. Think about who you would leave your assets to – family, friends, or charities.
  • A legal plan will save your family from worrying and avoid disputes about your wishes.
  • Without a plan, a court decides who gets what. Your loved ones could be left without what you wanted.

Too many times we’ve seen families dealing with the loss of a loved one also have to face unexpected financial hardship because a plan wasn’t in place. Their loved one’s assets were tied up in the courts. The families had to hire a lawyer to help them navigate the courts and probate process – adding to the financial hardship. All of these situations could have been avoided if a legal place had been put into place.

What’s The Process For Writing For A Will?

When you contact a law firm to help you write a will, an attorney will send you a questionnaire to complete. The list of questions will help you start thinking about how you want to secure your legacy and distribute your assets – whether it’s to family, friends, charities, your place of worship or community – it’s important that your wishes are documented in a legal plan.

The list includes standard questions about your assets (ex. checking and/or savings accounts, property, car, life insurance, etc.) as well your final wishes (Do you want to buried? If so where? Do you want to be cremated? Etc.).

It will also ask questions such as who do you want to execute your will, guardianship for your child/children, and wishes if you were to be come incapacitated. And don’t worry if you’re not quite sure what to include. An estate planning attorney can help guide you and help you think about what will work best for your life.

New Year’s Resolution 

While death isn’t something we like to think about – it’s something that happens to all of us – and one of the best ways we can protect our loved ones is to make a New Year’s resolution to put into place a will or estate plan.

And if you already have a will or estate plan in place, the New Year is always a good time to reflect upon changes in your life and make any necessary changes to your legal plan.

We Can Help

DJ Jeyaram, Esq., is an experienced wills and estate planning attorney who can help you customize a will to best meet your needs and protect your loved ones. Contact DJ at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678-325-3872.

How To Obtain Guardianship For Your Special Needs Child

Guardianship Attorney GeorgiaIn many states, including Georgia, as soon as your special needs child turns 18, he or she becomes a legal adult and is assumed to be able to make decisions on their own behalf unless a court determines otherwise.

However, if you determine that retaining guardianship over your child once he or she turns 18 is in your child’s best interest, here’s how you do it. (See related post: Is Guardianship The Right Choice When Your Special Needs Child Turns 18?)

Start Planning BEFORE Your Child Turns 18

Requesting guardianship can be a lengthy and involved legal process. In order to retain guardianship of your child, you need to have the court appoint you as your child’s guardian.

To make sure there is not a gap in your child’s guardianship when he or she turns 18, it’s important to prepare your petition to the court well in advance of your child’s 18th birthday. If there is a gap in guardianship (i.e. your child turns 18 before you have guardianship) and a decision needs to be made about your child’s health or legal rights, it could cause some serious problems.

Step-By-Step Process

  • Every state’s guardianship laws differ slightly and the process can be daunting. This is where hiring an attorney to help guide you through the process is beneficial.
  • There are several forms you will need to complete, including forms that will need to be completed by a qualified physician to evaluate your child.
  • Once you submit the forms, your child will need to appear in court with you. As much as possible, you will want to help your child understand the process and what to expect in advance of actually appearing in court.
  • The court will appoint a representative for your child to help determine the merits of your claim that your child is not competent to act on his or her own behalf and that guardianship is in fact the right choice. The representative will most likely want to meet and visit with your child. In addition, in some circumstances, the representative may visit your child at home.
  • Finally, you will need to attend a hearing with your child. At this point, the judge will review and determine if your child is incapacitated and, if so, to what extent he or she requires assistance. Further, the judge will then decide if the person petitioning for guardianship will be appointed as guardian.

Some Things To Consider 

  • You and your spouse or significant other can petition the court to share guardianship. You will become co-guardians.
  • If your child’s need are complex, you can request that a non-profit agency or public or private corporation serve as your child’s guardian.
  • Guardianship may not be the right solution for your child. There are alternatives such as conservator or limited guardianship that give your child more independence.

Once You Are Awarded Guardianship

The paperwork doesn’t stop once you’re awarded guardianship. Every year you will need to file detailed reports about your child’s finances and overall well being. In some states, guardians must also provide proof that they’ve made adequate residential arrangements as well as provided appropriate healthcare services.

If the guardian cannot prove that they have adequately provided for their adult ward, then the court can remove the adult ward and name a different guardian.

Getting Started

As a parent of a special needs child and an attorney with extensive experience with legal issues relating to special needs children, I can help you navigate the complex guardianship process. DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

7 Reasons Why Online Wills Aren’t The Smartest Choice

Wills Trusts and Estates Attorney GeorgiaGroupon is currently running an ad for 79% off online wills for individuals or couples. The company offering the promotion through Groupon says the online Web site creates wills “in just minutes.” Just “minutes” to map out and protect your assets and document your legacy? What?

Writing a will is NOT something that should be done in a matter of mere minutes. It’s something that should be given careful thought and consideration. The process of writing your will most likely take a couple of hours.

Why Online Wills Are Not The Smartest Choice

Writing a will should be done under the legal guidance of an established estate planning attorney and here are 7 reasons why:

• Online wills provide you with generic “one-size-fits-all” documents that are not tailored to your specific needs. Your life is not a one-size-fits-all. Why should your will be?

• Experienced estate planning attorneys can create personalized plans for you based on a vast array of estate planning tools that “do-it-yourself” online wills do not consider.

• When partnering with a lawyer, you are able to include specific details and information that the online forms do not allow you to include due to space limitations or lack of fields on the forms.

• Online will services also try to “up sell” customers through the process – the low cost offer is often a “hook” for more expensive packages. Almost all estate planning attorneys offer an upfront, flat fee for their wills.

• As your life situations change, your lawyer can easily help you update and change your legal plan as needed so that it to best protects your loved ones and assets. Online forms cannot do this.

• An attorney will keep your will in a locked safe. Online sites always have the potential for being hacked and your personal information compromised.

• An attorney will help you identify ways to minimize your tax liabilities upon your passing. Online will services typically do not provide this feature.

Easier For Your Family

Once your will needs to be executed, your family will need to hire a lawyer. By engaging a lawyer now to assist you with writing a will or estate plan, you are helping your family later as your family will not need to find an attorney to execute your will and they will already be familiar with your attorney.

Protecting Your Loved Ones

When it comes to protecting your family and assets, we recommend investing in the process of writing your will and partnering with an attorney to prevent any future headaches or heartaches. A will is a “living” document that’s designed to protect those you love most, and it deserves more than a generic form that can be completed in minutes. Your life is not generic – neither should your will.

We Can Help

We’re here to help. Our attorneys have extensive experience with helping individuals, families and families with special needs children create legal plans that best protect their assets and their loved ones.

Contact DJ Jeyaram at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678-325-3872.

 

Guardianship: Is It The Right Choice When Your Special Needs Child Turns 18?

Guardianship Special Needs

In most states, a parent is deemed to be the legal guardian of his or her child until their child turns 18. Up until that point, parents make all the medical, financial, educational and day-to-day decisions for their children.

However, once your child turns 18, he or she is legally considered an adult and your authority to make decisions on your child’s behalf stops. This usually isn’t an issue, unless you have a special needs child that may not be ready or able to make good decisions about their care.

Following is a discussion of some options of what you can do when your special needs child turns 18.

Guardianship

With guardianship of your child, you have the legal authority to make decisions about your child’s healthcare, housing, food, clothing, and other subjects that affect your child such as decisions about a their income, property, public benefits and other financial matters.

Guardianship is not automatic. And when your child turns 18, parents (or an adult willing to oversee your child’s care) must petition the court for guardianship.

However, not every child who has disabilities needs to have a guardian. With appointed guardians, your child loses a great deal of independence. Your child will no longer be able to make decisions about their personal life, health care, financial or legal matters.

Alternatives To Guardianship

Most state laws require that guardianship only be imposed only when less restrictive alternatives would not best benefit and protect the child.

Following are a few examples of less restrictive alternatives to guardianship.

Conservatorship

If your child has the capacity to make some decisions, an option to consider is Conservatorship. The individual appointed to serve as Conservator manages your child’s property and financial affairs. Most other decisions are left up to the child.

Power of Attorney

Power of attorney is given to a responsible adult (ex. a parent) that acts on your child’s behalf on financial, legal or business matters but the child still retains the right to act on his or her own behalf.

Representative or Protective Payee

If your child receives Social Security, benefits from the Veteran’s Administration, Railroad Retirement, welfare or other state or federal benefits, the Court can appoint someone to help manage their payments from these entities. All other decisions are left up to your child.

Factors To Consider When Making This Decision

It’s important to take into consideration several factors when deciding whether your child needs a guardian or some other form of support.

  • Your child’s ability to make sound decisions, including understanding the effect and consequences of his her decisions and actions
  • Your ongoing need to be involved in your child’s medical care
  • Your need for continued oversight over your child’s financial affairs
  • Your child’s needs and wants
  • Your child’s ability to communicate his or her needs
  • Your child’s level of independence with respect to self-care (ex. feeding, dressing, bathing, etc.)
  • Whether your child will require outside support such as assisted living or a home health assistant

When To Make A Decision

The conversations and decisions about how your 18-year-old child should be cared for need to happen BEFORE he/she turns 18. These conversations are not easy. In fact, they’re very difficult and there are many variables to consider. As a result, it’s important to start thinking about your child, his or her needs and long-term well-being now.

We Can Help

Although we cannot make the decision for you about what’s the right answer for you and your family, we can guide you through the decision-making process and help you with the legal aspects. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872 for a free initial consultation.

If Your Child Has Autism, Make Sure These 4 Things Are In Your Will

Autsim Will & Special Needs Trust

Although everyone should have a will, as parents of special needs children, we need wills to ensure that our kids are well cared for and have a good quality of life after we pass.

My son has a dual diagnosis of Autism and Williams Syndrome. Here are four things I recommend all parents of children with Autism – or any special needs – include in their wills or estate plans.

1) A Special Needs Trust – A will is a basic legal document that details your last wishes and is often used to distribute your property or assets.

However, a basic will does not include provisions that are needed to protect and provide for your special needs child. This is where a Special Needs Trust comes into play. A Special Needs Trust can be a part of your will or it can be a stand-alone document. It allows you to designate and qualify your assets in a way that doesn’t penalize your child when it comes to his or her public benefits.

Eligibility for many government benefits is determined based on the resources your child or adult ward holds in his or her name. If your special needs child has too many resources, even by just one dollar, he or she may not qualify for, or may even lose, benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. Even if your child does not currently receive government assistance, he or she may need it in the future.

A special needs trust is a way to protect your loved one’s current resources and future benefits. Through a special needs trust you can leave assets to your child or ward without negatively impacting his or her government benefits.

2) Designated Guardian – We often assume that a member of our family – maybe a sister or our own mother – will automatically be given custody of our children if something happens to us. However, this is not true unless you have a will, trust or estate plan in place that specifically names them as guardians.

Without a legal plan in place, anyone can request custody and a judge will decide with whom your child/children will live with. Choosing a guardian is perhaps one of the most difficult decisions to make. It’s important to choose someone you trust and who will respect your wishes for your child(ren).

Things to consider when selecting any child’s guardian are the guardian’s age, his or her family values, parenting style, character, willingness to serve as guardian and whether he or she already has an established relationship with your child.

With a special needs child there are even more considerations. Think about the traits that you, as a special needs parent, need to raise your child and does the guardian have these traits?  My top three traits for special needs guardians are 1) Energy; 2) Patience; and 3) The ability to advocate for my child. (See Related Post: 10 Tips On Choosing The Right Guardian)

3) Guardianship Letter & Instructions –  Once you’ve selected a guardian, you need to put them in a position to succeed if they are forced to step into your shoes. You should write instructions to the guardian about things they will need to know on how to parent your child.

Include things like your child’s routines, medicines, information about his or her medical providers, how to deal with sensory meltdowns, what is the best way to get them to eat or sleep. Simple things like their favorite stuffed animal that they need to go to sleep with at night or where they like to hide their favorite sippy cup or the name of their favorite YouTube videos are small details – but they are of big importance to our children.

We’ve had years to learn these things about our kids. Help your child’s guardian avoid having to learn from experience by documenting what you already know!  (See Related Post: How To Create A Successful Care Plan For Your Child’s Guardians)

By painstakingly detailing your routines and including details about what makes your child comfortable or happy in your care plan, you are setting your guardians up for success and for a smooth transition in case something were to suddenly happen to you and your spouse.

4) Conservator or Trustee – A conservator or trustee is someone to handle all financial decisions related to your child. A conservator helps ensure that money left to your special needs child is used for your child in ways that best benefit  your child.

Often times families ask me if their child’s designated guardian should also be the conservator or trustee. It depends. Your guardian can serve as both, but sometimes families prefer set up some up checks and balances by selecting different guardians and conservators. It’s important to select someone you trust and who will make smart financial decisions on your child’s behalf.  The guardian and the conservator work together in the best interest of your child.

Getting Started

As a parent of a special needs child and an estate planning attorney, I understand the challenges of adding one more thing to your plate. However, putting into place a will to protect your child with special needs is something we all need to do sooner rather than later – just in case.

We’ll walk you through the will planning process step-by-step. Initial consults are free.  We want to help you create a legal plan that best protects your child with special needs as well as your final wishes for your entire family. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.