Planning for the Future When A Young Adult Has Additional Needs
Whilst there are many challenges facing any young adult finding their way in the world, there may be a few more for someone with additional or special needs.
Parents of a child with additional needs often find themselves taking the lead on matters, in an effort to be one step ahead, thinking of what’s best for their child. When that child becomes an adult the parents’ authority can suddenly be curtailed.
We are often approached by parents wanting to help and support their adult child with additional needs, to get their legal affairs in order such as by putting in place a Power of Attorney or by making a Will.
Parents are also keen to understand how they might organise their affairs in their personal circumstances and what practical steps they can take to ensure that their child is looked after on their death.
From a legal perspective we would need to take instructions from the young adult and would only be able to proceed if we were satisfied that they were in a position to give us quality instructions.
In this blog, we look at what the options might be, depending on the individual circumstances.
Amelia and Ben have a son called Charlie who has just turned 18 and has learning difficulties.
Amelia and Ben look after Charlie and make sure that his additional needs are met. They want to plan for the future and make sure that Charlie will continue to be cared for and his affairs managed, both whilst they are around and after their deaths. They wonder what they can and/or need to do to achieve this.
As Charlie is now an adult, he may well be able to manage his own financial affairs either now or in the future, with some support. Should Charlie need someone to look after financial matters for him or support him with financial matters (assuming he has money in his sole name), then it may be possible to put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney – Property and Financial Affairs provided that he has the requisite mental capacity to do so. It is sensible to also have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place to cover his Health and Welfare. By doing this, Charlie can then nominate the people of his choice to look after his affairs for him in the future.
If Charlie does not have the requisite mental capacity to put in place Lasting Powers of Attorney, then Amelia and Ben could apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as Deputies for Charlie to manage his affairs on his behalf.
Amelia or Ben as one of Charlie’s parents could apply to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to be nominated as his ‘Appointee’ to manage his benefits on his behalf. This would only be applicable if Charlie did not have the requisite capacity to look after his own finances.
It is important to make sure that Charlie is in receipt of the benefits that he is entitled to.
Charlie may continue to live at home as an adult and be cared for by Amelia and Ben with or without the assistance of carers. But what about when Amelia and Ben are no longer able or around to look after him?
Amelia and Ben could consider creating a lifetime trust for Charlie’s benefit whilst they are still alive. They should also ensure that they have prepared Wills in consideration of Charlie’s situation to make sure that Charlie’s needs will continue to be met in the most appropriate way following their demise. Putting in place a Will incorporating a Discretionary Trust could be a sensible approach.
Charlie and his family would be wise to familiarise themselves with local organisations which specialise in working with individuals who have the same additional needs as Charlie. Such organisations could potentially help to minimise the disruption in Charlie’s life when the time comes that his parents can no longer care for him. This may help to give Amelia and Ben some peace of mind that they have prepared a plan for the future.
Finally, in June 2023, the Ministry of Justice published a Parents and Carers Toolkit, designed to assist those parents and carers who are assisting a young person who lacks capacity to make financial decisions themselves. The toolkit can be found here: New how-to guide to help families access trust funds of disabled young adults – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
At Band Hatton Button, we have a wealth of experience and include members of Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE). This means you can have peace of mind that you are dealing with a highly experienced and qualified team who specialise in helping with making Wills, Power of Attorneys, Attorney Support Services, Tax Planning, Administration of Estates, Trusts, Deputyship and Court of Protection related matters.
For individual advice and assistance contact our Wills, Probate and Trusts Team to find out how we can help.