Checklist for Estate Planning

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For parents of children on the autism spectrum, it seems like there is constantly the need to plan. Education planning, transition planning, adult services…. The list goes on and on. One thing that it is critical for parents to consider is planning for what will happen to their children when the parents pass away. Several articles in the CAR Autism Roadmap™ discuss issues related to wills, guardianship, and special needs trusts. This article is meant as a quick checklist of things to do when preparing for your child’s future after you are gone.

  • Write your last will and testament; appoint a guardian for your children if you should die before they are 18 years old.
  • Create a special needs trust to protect your child’s eligibility to government benefits, such as Medical Assistance and Supplemental Security Income; if your child inherits money when you die, he or she could otherwise become ineligible.
  • Write a letter of intent, which explains your child’s current abilities, needs, services, benefits, etc. and your wishes for your child’s future.
  • Check any life insurance policies, 401(k) plans, or IRA accounts to make sure funds are distributed to a special needs trust, if you want them to go to your child on the autism spectrum.
  • If needed, look into issues of guardianship and power of attorney for when your child turns 18 years old.
  • Put together a package of important legal papers, such as Social Security cards, birth certificates, health insurance cards, passports, etc.
  • Put together and periodically update a list of government benefits and agency contacts accessed by or on behalf of your child on the autism spectrum.
  • Put together a list of your assets to make administration of your will easier.

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Last Updated: June 3, 2020

The Center for Autism Research and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia do not endorse or recommend any specific person or organization or form of treatment. The information included within the CAR Autism Roadmap™ and CAR Resource Directory™ should not be considered medical advice and should serve only as a guide to resources publicly and privately available. Choosing a treatment, course of action, and/or a resource is a personal decision, which should take into account each individual's and family's particular circumstances.


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