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  • Writer's pictureNicole J. Zuvich

How to help your special needs child after they reach adulthood

Updated: Sep 27, 2022

Once your special needs child becomes an adult, it may be time for them to move out and begin to have a bit more independence. However, you don’t want to leave them completely on their own, and you still want to provide support however you can. There are a few things you should know about how you can assist and protect them without making their transition harder than it has to be.

Helping them to qualify for assistance

When your special needs child lived with you, you provided for all of their monetary needs. Now that they’re on their own, your natural instinct may be to continue to offer them financial support. However, if you do this in the wrong way, you might actually do more harm than good.

Now that your child is transitioning into a relatively independent lifestyle, they may depend upon government assistance in order to provide health insurance, housing and food. Most of these programs examine an individual’s personal finances before determining whether they qualify. If you give your child too much financial support, they may not qualify for the assistance they need to live on their own.

Instead, consider using a special needs trust or another type of trust. This is a legal tool that allows you to provide for the needs of your loved one without putting money directly in their control. If you assist them through a trust, the principle in the trust will not count as their personal assets, and thus it won’t hurt their chances of qualifying for assistance programs.


Special needs have varying levels of severity. It may be that your child is not capable of making their own financial decisions at all. In this case, they may need you to continue to manage their finances for them. However, once they are 18 years old, they are legally an independent adult.

This is why you need a guardianship. If you go through the proper legal channels, you can have a court nominate you as your child’s guardian, which gives you the legal authority to manage their personal finances and make medical decisions for them even though they are an adult.

It isn’t easy letting go and allowing your special needs child to begin a more independent life. With the right legal tools in place, you can ensure that they get the help they need while they adapt to their new circumstances.

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