Q&A: Providing for a disabled child

Dear Liz: The letter about the disabled daughter was horrifying, but the father isn’t the only villain here. Surely the mother knew what kind of man she married. Shouldn’t she have made provisions for her daughter in her own estate plans?

Answer: Ideally, yes. No parent should assume a spouse will “do the right thing” for their kids. Even if the surviving spouse doesn’t marry the proverbial wicked stepparent who walks off with the whole estate, the survivor could be defrauded or compromised by dementia or other cognitive problems. Estate planning attorneys phrase it this way: You may trust your spouse, but do you trust your spouse’s next spouse?

Parents who have disabled children, or who hope to preserve a portion of their estate for their kids, should discuss their situation with a qualified estate planning attorney and make the appropriate provisions in their wills or living trusts.

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  1. There was mention of putting a spendthrift trust into ones’ RLT. How is this done? One of my two adult sons is mentally/emotionally unable to take care of himself financially. My home is paid for, and my liquid funds are 1.5 mlns. that I ‘d like to divide equally, but putting son No.2’s part in a spendthrift trust (in my RLT), it would provide peace of mind. How do I go about this? Thanks