Over the past few decades, education and understanding regarding autism and the unique responsibilities of families caring for an autistic loved one has increased exponentially thanks in part to events like Autism Awareness Month. Now in its 50th year, the Autism Society established April as National Autism Awareness Month over 25 years ago in an effort to promote education and awareness regarding this complex and multi-layered condition.
The event is an opportunity to learn more about autism while celebrating the genuine uniqueness of those who have been diagnosed. While families with autistic loved ones have benefited greatly from the explosion of cultural and clinical awareness of the condition, there is still a real struggle by many to provide an adequate level of care within the home. About 35 percent of autistic young adults ages 19 to 23 have not worked after high school or graduated college.
From a legal perspective, there are a few important things to remember. Autism Awareness Month is a great reminder that proper planning can provide peace of mind for your entire family.
Guardianship: Until the age of 18, you can make decisions for your special needs child. When they turn 18, you can file for guardianship so you can continue making those decisions for them, if they are not able to make decisions on their own.
Estate Planning: You don’t need to disinherit your child to allow them to benefit from government programs. Special Needs Trusts are a great way to protect their benefits. Also, Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney are an important part of planning.
Options: One size never fits all when it comes to estate planning. There are many special needs programs available to your family. Speaking with an attorney who knows the ins and outs of this area of the law will be very helpful to you.
Aside from the emotional toll it can take on families and caregivers, managing the needs of a loved one with autism spectrum disorder can be logistically daunting. Nationally, adult autism treatment costs considerably more than that of children, coming in at approximately $175 to $196 billion annually.
Of course, you want to care for special-needs family members by yourself. However, realistically speaking, if you have a job and other members of your family to care for, you may need some assistance.
Not sure where to start? We will help. We invite you to contact the attorneys at Bratton Scott. For many years, we have helped families plan for the life care of an aging or special-needs loved one. Call us today for a consultation. We will be by your side every step of the way.