You have an autistic child, and you love them with all your heart. They’re high-functioning, so they don’t need a legal guardian to handle all major decisions for them.
You are worried, however, how they may fare once they come into their inheritance from you – and you have good reason. Studies show that autistic people are vulnerable to high levels of abuse in many different areas in their life. In fact, research from the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge indicates that around half of autistic adults have experienced some form of financial exploitation during their lives – often from those they trust.
How can you protect your adult child once you’re gone?
Autistic people are often very open, trusting and giving. That often makes them ill-prepared to realize how deceptive others can be, especially when money is involved. They may be cajoled into “loans” that never get repaid, convinced to co-sign on someone’s debts or simply pressured into giving someone money or paying someone’s bills.
You may be able to protect them from financial abuses like these through several different means. You options may include:
- A trust and trustee: If you choose to put your child’s inheritance in a trust (or need to use a special needs trust to preserve their financial eligibility for things like Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid), the trustee can control how funds are accessed and used.
- A conservatorship: If you don’t choose to use a trust, you may want to see about having a conservator appointed over your child. A conservator guards the estate, or financial affairs, of the protected person, so that would also put a barrier between your child and those who might seek to abuse them.
These may be only a few of the options available to you. When you have a special needs child, it’s wise to explore all the avenues to your goal.