What is a will?
Your will is a summary of instructions and decisions about issues that arise after your death.

What should be included in my will if I have a family member with a disability?
Your will should clearly state who is to take guardianship over your family member if guardianship is necessary. Your will should include provisions necessary to avoid excessive taxes. You should also state how you would like assets left to your family member with a disability.

What are the problems associated with assets left to my family member with a disability?
Inheritances over $2,000 will make your family member ineligible for government-funded supports. Your family member will have to use the money for their daily living needs, and will not be able to use the money in the way you intended such as to improve their quality of life, buy assistive technology, and visit relatives.

If a will is not in place, assets will be divided between your living relatives when you die. Your family member with special needs may receive assets that make him or her ineligible for funding. The creation of a will is vital to the future well-being of your family member.

Choosing to disinherit your family member with special needs, with hopes of a sibling or other family member providing for his or her care has high risks. The funds may not be used or divided as you intended. Future deaths or divorce may result in the money exiting your family, leaving your family member with a disability with nothing.

How can I leave assets to my family member with a disability?
One of the best ways to ensure proper provisions for your family member with a disability is to create a Supplemental Needs Trust.

How do I create a will?
The will must be a written document, and must be drafted under “sound mind”. Two or three witnesses who do not have any interest in the estate must sign the will. Contact an attorney to help you draft your will. Different states have different laws; make sure your attorney is familiar with the laws in the state in which you reside, as well as the state in which your family member with a disability resides.