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Special Needs Planning Attorney Charleston

All children require enormous amounts of love and care, not to mention financial resources. If you have a special needs child, these resources increase exponentially. This is why,  whether you know you are pregnant with a special needs child or about to adopt one, or are surprised by the child’s condition at birth, you must begin the planning necessary to prepare for your child’s future as early as possible. 

Even if  your child’s condition doesn’t become apparent for several years (such as with many cases of autism spectrum disorders), or your child becomes disabled by an injury or disease that occurs later on, once you are aware of the problem, much serious planning is required as soon as the permanence of the disability becomes known. It is important to remember that you are not alone in dealing with these issues. Over 18 percent of American children under the age of 18 are special needs children. As your child grows, her talents and capabilities will shine through in spite of, or even because of, the special difficulties she bravely confronts.

How Wiles Law Firm, LLC Can Help

Once you know you have a child with special needs, in addition to seeking medical care, you should consult a special needs attorney who is knowledgeable about state and federal law concerning special education, government benefits, estate planning and special needs trusts. If you live in Charleston or one of its surrounding counties, Wiles Law Firm, LLC, is an excellent place to come for guidance. Our skilled attorneys have extensive experience with special needs cases and are dedicated to helping you navigate the challenging pathway ahead of you. We will help you to make sure you have the medical and life insurance you need, and will design a special needs trust for your child that will not interfere with the child’s ability to receive government benefits when the time comes.

The Wide Variety of Special Needs

Although special needs are individualized and often somewhat idiosyncratic, they generally fall into four basic categories: physical, developmental, behavioral/emotional, and sensory. In many cases, a child may fall into more than one of these categories:

Physical Special Needs include orthopedic, neuromuscular, heart, lung and seizure disorders, such as muscular dystrophy, chronic asthma, epilepsy and congenitally malformed limbs.
Developmental Special Needs include Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, dyslexia, cerebral palsy, and fetal alcohol syndrome.
Behavioral/Emotional Special Needs include attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and oppositional defiance disorder.
Sensory Impairment involves blindness or severe visual impairment, deafness or limited hearing, and blind/deafness.

It is clear looking over this list that not only is it possible for a child to have both physical and developmental needs with, for example, cerebral palsy, or to experience behavioral or emotional problems as a result of an autism disorder or any other challenge that makes her “different.” It is, therefore, always important to be aware that your child may need more than one kind of assistance.

Educational and Anti-Discrimination Rights for Those with Special Needs


The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability, combined with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), guarantees your special needs child the right to special education appropriate to his needs, regardless of where you live in the United States. Remember, too, that your child has the right not to be teased or bullied and deserves a safe, respectful learning environment. 

You should also be aware that, even during the preschool years, your child is entitled to early intervention to provide her with a sense of improved abilities and self-esteem. Such intervention services may include physical, behavioral, psychological, speech, and/or occupational therapy. Once in the public school system, your child is entitled to have teachers, psychologists, and therapists work together to come up with a sensible Individualized Education Program (IEP) that will help your child progress to his full potential. The IEP should be reviewed at least annually to determine whether it requires any changes. Depending on the nature of your child’s disability, she may be entitled to have a personal aide with her to help her with mobility or other issues.

Private Schools for Special Needs

There are, of course, many private schools set up to accommodate special needs children as day  or residential students. If your family has the funds, some excellent schools exist to cater to your child’s special needs. They may also serve to satisfy your child’s special interests by providing, for example, horseback riding or art classes. In some unusual cases in which the public school feels it cannot provide for the special needs of a particular child (blind/deaf for example), the administration and special education committee may have a meeting and decide to pay for your child to attend a private school that is better suited to meet his needs.

Government Benefits

While your medical insurance will likely pay for most of your child’s necessary healthcare costs, as an outpatient or inpatient, under certain circumstances, your special needs child may be entitled to receive benefits from the federal government through Medicaid and SSI if your family income is low enough. When you or your spouse reaches the age at which you can receive Social Security benefits, your child may be able to receive SSDI derived from your former income if she became disabled while still a minor. 

Stages of Development Involve Stages of Care

While your child remains in school, he or she is, hopefully, in safe and comfortable surroundings, but what happens after high school? Your school, as well as organizations serving the disabled in general or supporting those with particular disabilities (such as muscular dystrophy or epilepsy) will be able to give you information about residential and vocational opportunities for your young adult child. During this transitional stage, a facilitator who focuses on such matters, may be helpful to you. 

Wiles Law Firm Can Assist You with Creating a Special Needs Trust

By the time your child is full-grown, you probably have a clear understanding of what type of care your child will require during his adult years. If you have planned your estate with a capable estate planning attorney like Tripp Wiles who well knows the complexities of special needs care, you may be able to settle your child in an independent apartment or house with a trustworthy caretaker. Wiles Law Firm will also be able to set your child up with a special needs trust that will enable her to maintain a low enough income (since the trust is not “owned” by its beneficiary) to qualify for government assistance. From this trust, the trustee will be able to pay not for your child’s sustenance (which the government benefits will provide), but for extras like restaurant meals, entertainment costs, and vacations. A special needs trust will be a way for you to ensure your child has the pleasant and fulfilling life you wish for him, both while you are alive and after you pass away.

Wiles Law Firm can also assist you in establishing a conservatorship and/or guardianship for your child. This means you will assign a person or entity you have complete faith in to take over responsibility for your adult child’s finances as conservator, or to care for her personal and healthcare needs as guardian, if you become incapacitated or die. In all cases, our competent attorneys will ensure that your loved one is cared for according to your wishes. We will make certain that every document is well-drafted, carefully reviewed, and legally binding. Give us a call or connect with Wiles Law Firm through one of our website contact forms.


Wiles Law Firm, LLC helps clients with their estate planning needs in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas such as West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and John's Island.

Information on this website is not legal advice. Further, viewing of the enclosed information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Wiles Law Firm, LLC. Matters will be handled by attorneys who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 852 Lowcountry Blvd., Ste. 101, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. M. Emerson Wiles, III is the attorney responsible for this advertisement.

Any result Wiles Law Firm, LLC may achieve on behalf of one client in one particular matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Please contact a South Carolina estate planning attorney or one of our attorneys with Wiles Law Firm, LLC for a consultation regarding your unique estate plan.



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