Many of our Kent readers may be parents or know parents of a child with special needs. Those who tuned in to a recent discussion about the difficult but important choice to establish guardianship for a vulnerable child transitioning into adulthood will also want to learn more about the value of a special needs trust in providing for a child's ongoing needs.
As Kent readers may know, caring for a child with special needs can pose great challenges for even the most dedicated parents. Those challenges multiply as a vulnerable child transitions into adulthood.
Any Kent resident who has served as the guardian for a vulnerable child knows that the challenges of caring for a loved one do not end with the establishment of legal guardianship. As one father recently discovered, the difficult decisions that need to be made in the scope of everyday care can sometimes distract a guardian from big-picture issues that may arise long after legal intervention because of incapacity. Every guardian needs to remember that resources are available to help you through a trying time.
As Kent residents may know, Americans are living longer than ever, but one unfortunate side effect is that an increasing percentage of the population suffers from advanced infirmities of aging. Some conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease, may require a third party to step in and seek legal intervention because of the estate holder's incapacity. With statistics indicating that 43 percent of individuals over age 85 suffer from Alzheimer's disease, our readers in the Seattle area will want to be aware of the legal options for providing the best care for loved ones.
Parents across King County understand the special challenges inherent in raising a child with a cognitive disability. Those challenges can become even more concerning as a vulnerable child grows into adulthood. Unfortunately, some parents of vulnerable children may feel intimidated by the legal system and neglect to take steps that can give them the legal authority necessary for the continuance of much needed care.
Many readers in the Seattle area have enjoyed the music of Britney Spears over the years. Many, too, have heard reports of the singer's life spiraling out of control in events that led her father to petition for legal guardianship of the singer's person and estate. Most often, when Washington residents petition for guardianship, they are seeking legal authority to intervene and provide care for a loved one who needs help getting through a difficult time due to incapacity.
Yes, issues of estate planning may not be every family's favorite topic of discussion, but residents in the Seattle area would be wise not to push to the wayside important decisions regarding wills, trusts, long-term care planning, power of attorney and other estate planning issues. To help expedite the process, a discussion of a celebrity's particular estate plan can often ease the discomfort some family members feel with regard to end-of-life wishes.
Estate planning can sometimes require us to consider unpleasant but nonetheless probable aspects of our future. Many Washington residents no doubt procrastinate in deciding on matters of guardianship or powers of attorney. Plus, there may be a bit of a selfish strain running through much of our procrastination, since the ones who most benefit from a solid estate plan will do so after we're gone. But these are important issues to consider, and the basic goal of all estate planning is to provide for one's own needs, as well as for the needs of loved ones. To achieve this double outcome, estate planners in Seattle and the surrounding areas will want to give their estate plan a 2012 checkup.
For many Washington residents, caring for loved ones with special needs may be especially difficult in these tough economic times. In addition to the cost of care, all manner of other bills are piling up. However, experts say that, as difficult as it may seem, families that are providing for loved ones with special needs should also do their best to plan for the long term. Doing so is a good idea not only for loved ones with special needs but also for the caregivers' retirement. For example, advance directives, end-of-life wishes, and a living will should all be considered when estate planning becomes a reality.One of the more important reasons people are now seeking estate planning for those with special needs is that the bad economy has resulted in reduced incomes for caregivers, as jobs have been lost or hours cut. This reduction in income can make things very difficult for many families, especially those that are caring for loved ones. Estate planning allows families to get control over what they may be facing in the future, as well as make plans to address those issues.
As readers of this blog may know, courts appoint guardianships for many reasons. Typically, guardianship is granted to someone who is appointed to care for a vulnerable child, an elderly person or a sick or disabled person--someone who has been deemed unable to care for themselves. If someone is appointed guardianship, that means the guardian (typically a stranger) is given control over a person's life and assets. Unfortunately, those guardians don't always have their charges' best interests at heart. Recently, members of the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse spoke out on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.