As parents, we want to make provision for our children and this is even more important if a child has a physical or mental disability. Parents are often the primary carer and the ‘voice’ for the child, looking after them at home or making sure they are cared for in suitable accommodation, as well as claiming available state benefits and making arrangements to pay for care and support services.
It is natural to be worried about what will happen when you die as the disabled child might not be able to manage their own affairs or express their views about their care, their likes and dislikes, or their medical needs. The loss of a parent will be unsettling for your child and you will want reassurance that there is someone to look after your child’s best interests.
Putting a trust in place either during your lifetime or in your Will gives you peace of mind that you can continue to support your child financially, which may include providing a home for them. The trust fund will be invested to be used for your child’s benefit but it is held safely by the trustees and managed properly.
There are different types of trust that can be created and the most suitable trust for you will depend on your personal family circumstances and your child’s needs. A carefully created trust need not affect your child’s entitlement to state benefits and often the trust can enjoy special tax treatment. You can set out who is to benefit from any residual trust fund after your child has died which can include other family members or charities.
Careful thought should be given to who to appoint as the trustees as they will be responsible for managing the trust and making the trust fund available to make your child’s life more enjoyable and comfortable. Often professional trustees are appointed but trustees can also be family members or friends, and you may wish to appoint someone who knows your child to act as trustee alongside professional trustees.
It is advisable to prepare a letter setting out to your trustees your wishes for the trust fund and as much information as possible about your child’s needs, including future needs, so your trustees can look after your child’s best interests.
Fiona Ashworth, Aileen Hirst, and Hayley Weston are qualified members of STEP (Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners) and we have many years of experience advising clients on setting up and administering trusts. Please get in contact with the Wills and Estates Team if you would like to make an appointment to discuss setting up a trust or if you have any questions about an existing trust. We can be reached on 01206 574431 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org