Leaving Money to Siblings on Behalf of a Person with Disabilities: A Good or Bad Idea?

Many attorneys advise parents of a child with disabilities to disinherit that child and leave their inheritances to the child’s siblings. The logic involved here is that if they receive any money, they will lose their government benefits, so why leave them anything at all? The sibling can use that money to look after and provide for the child with disabilities during his or her lifetime.

These inheritances are called “Morally Obligated Gifts.” The sibling is morally obligated to provide funds, but not legally obligated. Distributions to siblings are now their monies and not those of the child with special needs. Money can be stolen, mismanaged, and attached through divorce, bankruptcy, or lawsuit. Money may never be used on behalf of the child with special needs as originally intended.

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