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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Ways to Plan and Protect a Loved One with Down Syndrome

Do you have a loved one with Down syndrome? Have you thought about ways to plan for and protect your loved one with Down Syndrome? Creating an Alabama estate plan would definitely be a step toward protecting your loved one with Down syndrome. When you have a loved one with Down syndrome it can result in both mental and physical challenges. Even though there are similarities in the diagnosis for impacted individuals, often each person has different strengths and weaknesses. 

As the parent of a loved one with Down syndrome we know you have loved, cared for and advocated for your loved one throughout his or her life.  In addition, we know that you have been in charge of many daily tasks including, but not limited to, the following:

• Daily personal caregiving
• Standing up for your loved one and being sure his or her rights are protected
• Making sure he or she has access to education
• Acquiring government benefits
• Locating meeting with doctors and specialists
• Organizing and dispensing prescription medications
• Establishing a stable home environment
• Help your loved one interact with family members and the outside world
• Keeping your loved one safe from harm
• Not allowing your loved one to be taken advantage of

Reviewing the list above, the parent of a loved one with Down syndrome has a lot of responsibility. That is why it is so disturbing for a parent to even contemplate a time when he or she cannot care for his or her loved one with Down syndrome.

There is a way, though, that a parent can plan and protect his or her loved one with Down syndrome in the future. By creating an estate plan you can be sure that your loved one is protected should there come a time when you are no longer here to care for him or her. By working with an Alabama estate planning attorney, you can create a comprehensive estate plan. You will have the opportunity to choose a trusted individual to be your successor for your loved one’s person as well as planning for his or her financial stability. By planning forward together you and your attorney can create a care team that can act in your place when you are no longer here.  

While working with your attorney to create your estate plan for a loved one with Down syndrome, he will probably advise creating a plan that includes special needs planning. Estate planning in this area can include:

• A special needs trust
• Being able to make choices regarding future healthcare decision makers
• Planning for the financial security of your loved ones
• Transition plans to ensure someone can access government benefits

No one knows your loved one with Down syndrome better than you. In addition, you have cared for your loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We recommend you consider making a detailed list of instructions on just what it is you do. It is a reality that many loved ones of family members with Down syndrome have fought significant battles for years and they know both what to do and what not to do when it comes to caring for their loved one. So, it is important for you to provide instructions for future advocates so they are not at risk of not knowing what to do in specific situations.

Be aware that your estate planning attorney has the experience to talk to you about what it means to create a special needs trust for your loved one with Down syndrome. Be sure to share your concerns with your attorney as well as what your goals for the future are. 

We know this can be a difficult future to plan for and are here to help you. At the end of the day, legal planning is not just for you. Instead, it is for the ones you love most. If we can answer any questions for you on putting this estate planning in place, please do not hesitate to let us know. For more information, please reach out to our office and schedule a time to meet.


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