Helping your disabled child after you die

Abbie Kingdon  10-10-2019

If you have a disabled child you may be worried about their future when you die. You may have thought about leaving some money to a sibling of the disabled child on the understanding that they will look after their brother or sister in the future, but what happens if they also die, or have debts and lose control of the money?

Alternatively you may have thought about leaving your disabled child a sum of money in the form of a gift in a Will, but this may affect any means tested benefits they are entitled to. Furthermore they may not have the capacity to manage their own money or they may be vulnerable and could be taken advantage of financially by others.

By setting up a “disabled trust” (also known as a “vulnerable beneficiary trust”) in your Will you can overcome the the uncertainties and ensure that your disabled child is provided for in the future.

Who qualifies for a vulnerable beneficiary trust?

To qualify for a disabled trust, a disabled person is one who:

  • By reason of a mental disorder, is incapable of managing their property and affairs (Mental Health Act 1983) (including for example Down’s Syndrome, Autistic Spectrum Disorder schizophrenia); or
  • Qualifies under a benefits test, i.e. in receipt of certain benefits such as attendance allowance or personal independence payment.

How does the trust work?

You would need to think about who you wanted to “hold” your disabled child’s money, under the terms of your Will. These people are known as your “Trustees” who may be other family members or friends or you may wish to appoint a professional trustee, such as a solicitor.

The Trustees are responsible for managing the disabled child’s share of your estate, and are responsible for investing the funds that make up the Trust. They would also have the power to decide (from a class of beneficiaries named in your Will) who should receive money from the trust fund, when they should receive it, and what amount they should receive.

A beneficiary of a disabled trust does not have an automatic right to receive anything from the trust, but only benefits if the trustees exercise their discretion in his or her favour. This is why a disabled child’s ability to claim means tested state benefits is preserved. The disabled child does not own the money in the trust but has a potential right to benefit from the money in the trust.

Our private client department here at Samuels Solicitors, has a wealth of experience in putting these types of trusts in place and understand how important it is to you to ensure that your loved ones are provided for in the future. If you want to set up a trust for a disabled child, we can help.

If you, or some you know would like some further information regarding disabled trusts then please contact one of your private client team who will be happy to discuss the matter further with you.

disabled child trust lawyer solicitor devon expert