Having an estate to pass on to heirs is a big deal. It means you have done well in life, and you are presenting a parting gift to your spouse and/or children. What happens, though, when one or more of your heirs have special needs? It becomes an even bigger deal, because you have to decide how to provide for these adult children with their conditions. Here are some special legal considerations for your estate when you have special needs heirs.
The Level of Your Heir's Functioning
First and foremost, your estate lawyers want to know how high-functioning your heir is. Would he or she be able to manage the house and the yard on his or her own, or would he or she need a lot of help and support? If you want to leave the house to your special needs heir, you will have to designate someone to assist him or her with maintenance and caring for everything on the property. That is not easy, considering that any heir you have that does not have special needs may not want to be his or her sibling's caregiver or caretaker. Then you will have to designate someone else you trust, or you will have to set up a trust for that heir along with giving him or her the house.
If the heir is high-functioning with something like ADHD or autism, then you would just need to make sure that your heir understands the responsibilities that come with owning a house before you will the house to him or her. If you can do that, and you think he or she can manage it, then you can just will the house and property to him or her with a few rules.
Willing the House and Property to a Nondisabled Heir and a Trust Fund to the Disabled Heir
Of course, you can always set up the will so that a nondisabled heir receives the house and surrounding property, and your disabled heir receives a trust fund to help support him or her for the next several decades of his or her life. If you work it this way, someone will have to be the trustee, and manage the trust for the special needs heir. The best way to manage this is to assign a lawyer to handle the trust and another heir to co-manage the trust for distribution of funds for housing, monthly bills, and food. You will need very strict guidelines built into the will to avoid litigation of this decree and avoid mismanagement of the trust for your special needs heir.
Reach out to an estate lawyer to get more advice.