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By Michael Tupper
Attorney at Law

Watching your child grow and mature is exciting, but preparing your child for life as an independent young adult can also seem overwhelming, especially if your teen has special needs. 

Children with special needs require certain legal considerations as they near adulthood. The sooner you begin preparing for this transition, the easier the process will be for you and your child to navigate this period successfully.

Consider Your Child’s Future Employment and Finances

Once your child turns 18, they will be considered their own household for Social Security and Medicaid benefits. Receiving and maximizing these benefits can help your adult child with disabilities pay for their living expenses and other support services. 

Educating yourself about strategies now, including speaking with an experienced Florida lawyer, can help you and your child make a smoother transition.

If you think it might be an issue, discuss employment with your child and how it could affect their benefits eligibility. If they are no longer in school, you will want to help them find suitable employment that both accommodates their special needs and won’t jeopardize their income-based support benefits.

Set Up a Special Needs Trust

If you have not yet done so, a special needs trust can ensure your assets are used to care for your child and benefit them both now and in the future. Such a trust can also give you peace of mind that if you become incapacitated or pass away, there will be someone who can see that your assets are properly allocated to your adult child. 

Establish a Guardianship or Conservatorship if Needed

Guardianships and conservatorships are methods designed for adult children who need additional support in managing their affairs. Depending on your child’s needs and abilities, one might be more appropriate than the other. Both can take some time to set up, so starting the process earlier rather than later is best.

If you do not believe your child needs guardianship or conservatorship, discuss whether serving as their power of attorney in specific situations would be helpful. This can allow you to step in and assist with decision-making as needed and does not take as long to set up.

Explore Additional Education Opportunities

Once your child has completed high school, progressing and taking advantage of additional educational opportunities may interest them. As they have progressed through school so far, you have likely become familiar with how their needs impact their learning abilities through Individualized Education Program (IEP) plan meetings. 

Use this knowledge and information to help your child find an appropriate educational program. Keep in mind that colleges and universities are not required to provide an IEP for your adult child. 

As a result, make sure that whatever school or program you and your child are considering will be able and committed to helping them succeed. Inform the school of what needs they have — both in and out of the classroom — and ask how they would be able to address those needs.

Consulting a Jacksonville Family Law Attorney Is Key

A knowledgeable family law attorney can be the ideal first step in helping your special needs child make the transition from childhood to adulthood. The right Florida family law lawyer can get to know you and your child and accurately identify the legal matters you should address before your child reaches 18.

At Tupper Law, P.A., our team can not only identify your needs but also work to help you address them promptly. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients and minimizing the stress that can come with navigating the legal landscape. Reach out to us to schedule your consultation today.

About the Author
Michael Tupper is an experienced and skilled attorney from Jacksonville, FL, and is the driving force behind Tupper Law P.A. With an illustrious career spanning several years, he has established himself as a reliable and skilled legal advisor and representative across various disciplines. Having obtained his license to practice law in the State of Florida in 2004, Michael has consistently catered to the legal needs of Northeast Florida, encompassing Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties. His unwavering commitment to delivering timely, personalized, and proficient services reflects his dedication to providing the highest level of professional assistance.