If you have ever tried to advise a close friend or a family member that they should plan ahead to care for their children – in the event of the person’s death – then maybe you have walked in my shoes. This isn’t such an unusual situation – suggesting people write a Will so it is clear what their wishes are regarding their funeral or memorial arrangements and leaving gifts for children and family members.
This does get complicated where one’s children are disabled – at any age!
This all began in July 2013 when my mother’s sister passed away, I had thought unexpectedly, but discovered later she was actually quite ill and hiding it from me. I got the call, made arrangements to get a plane as soon as possible, pack, rent a car, travel all day, arrive at my Uncle and cousins house at midnight – and that was just the beginning. I thought I was simply going to help with the funeral, console my cousins – since I knew how they felt losing a mother – and grieve myself.
After getting over the initial shock and visiting with my cousins over a box of old photos — telling old stories — I had a realization:
What’s going to happen to them when their father dies?
This was an awful moment for me and I knew I had to take action. I certainly wished I knew then what I know now — that my Uncle was also sick and hiding it from me — he died a year and half later.
My cousins are now in their 30s, yet neither of them drives – or ever will – they don’t work a full-time 40 hour a week job – and never will – they cannot handle their own legal and financial affairs. My cousins are legally disabled. Due to mental and physical impairments they are simply not as intelligent or sophisticated about some of the goings on in the world – and they need some help. Neither has ever written a check and cannot budget or balance a checkbook; Nor do they always understand the mechanics of how things work (like the computer talking to the internet through the cable line and cable box) they just want it to work. Surprisingly though they recently impressed me with their thoughts on the upcoming election and the candidates – they do follow the news.
I aim to share my story of how my cousins became my clients and how I have become something of a guardian to them – although not officially or legally. I hope this may assist you in your own affairs or in helping someone else.
Zoe – firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: I am an Illinois attorney practicing in real estate matters. This blog and the information herein is not meant to be legal advice that you should rely on. You should always consult an attorney about your individual circumstance – especially as every State’s laws are different in the matters of Probate and Special Needs Trusts.