Today I will begin with the basic will. A significant majority of families in the autism community have not prepared a will.
Why not? Perhaps;
- Life is overwhelming and we are just having problems getting through the day
- Naming a guardian for our children is too difficult when a child with autism is involved
- A will is something for the future when we are old and grey
- If we die, doesn’t our money just go to the kid’s anyway?
Before we have a look at what happens to your children if you and your spouse die without a will in place, it’s important to talk about one of the benefits your child may qualify for as an adult. A disabled single adult in B.C. may qualify for a “Persons With Disabilities” (PWD) pension. This could be as much as $906 per month. Importantly this amount will be clawed back if the individual has assets (with certain exclusions) in excess of $3,000 (soon to be $5,000). CLBC is in such a mess at the moment that children transitioning to adulthood are being told the cupboard is bare. The PWD benefit is vitally important and must be protected.
Firstly, following the death of you and your spouse, assuming there is no will in force, your children become wards of the state. MCFD will assume guardianship and look after the child’s health, education and upbringing . A relative or other appropriate person may apply to court for guardianship or to adopt the child. The children may or may not be placed with family members. You may not have a perfect guardian for your kids, but I guarantee that you have at least one relative that you would never want as a guardian. Do you want the courts making this decision or do you want to make this one yourself? Without a will in place, the courts will be making this important decision.
After your death your assets become part of your estate and without a will they will be generally be shared among your spouse and children. If a will does not appoint a guardian for a child under nineteen and there is no surviving parent with legal custody of the child, the Public Guardian and Trustee will manage the child’s legal and financial interests. The child’s guardian would have to apply to the Public Guardian and Trustee for any money needed for things like living expenses or education. Any assets passed on to your child when he/she turns 19 will be their property and will then be subject to the PWD clawback. The net result is that you will have given them nothing. Is that really what you want?
The next post will deal with extended family and how they can help out financially.