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Legacy Protection Lawyers St. Petersburg Estate Planning, Probate & Trust Lawyer

Three Important Tips When Estate Planning For An Autistic Loved One


After a loved one is diagnosed with autism, you have many things to consider. One that you may overlook is your estate plan, but this is perhaps one of the most important. Without proper planning in place, your loved one may not have the future legal, financial, or medical foundation they will need in the future. Below, our St. Petersburg estate planning lawyer explains three tips to consider when creating a plan that will protect your loved one.

You May Not Always Have Authority to Make Decisions 

Although you may have the authority to make decisions for your autistic loved one now, that may not always be the case. If you are the parent, grandparent, or sibling of an autistic minor, you may lose any authority you have to make decisions for them once they are no longer a minor. Under Florida law, your loved one will likely be considered a legal adult once they reach legal age, which is generally on their 18th birthday. This remains true even if your loved one suffers from cognitive, developmental, or mental disabilities.

Without proper estate planning in place, you may lose legal authority to make decisions for your loved one once they are no longer a minor. Part of proper estate planning includes creating a list now of what your loved one is and is not capable of doing. Also include information regarding educational, medical, legal, and financial decisions.

Guardianships May Be Less Restrictive 

To retain the legal authority to make decisions for your loved one after they are no longer a minor, you may want to obtain a guardianship. Even though you may not want to pursue this step, it is often important to make sure autistic adults are kept safe. Due to the fact that your loved one may be legally considered an adult, even if you can obtain a guardianship it may be less restrictive. If you are no longer able to make decisions in the future, a guardianship can also provide a roadmap for trustees to navigate medical, legal, and financial decisions.

Special Needs Trusts are Very Beneficial 

There are many different types of special needs trusts that can protect your loved one. You can place assets in these trusts so they will pass to your loved one in the future. A special needs trust does not need to pass through probate, and will not affect any Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits your loved one is receiving.

Our Estate Planning Lawyers in St. Petersburg Can Advise You of Your Legal Options 

At Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, our seasoned attorneys know how important early planning is for your autistic loved one. Our St. Petersburg estate planning lawyers can advise you of the options available to you that will protect your entire family now, and in the future. Call us today at 727-471-5868 or connect with us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys so we can get started.


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