I am the parent of a child with special needs.  Should I give money to a relative to care for my child with special needs after my death instead of giving the money directly to my child?

No.

Your expressed desires to your relative about the money create only a moral obligation on your relative and are not legally binding obligations that can be enforced. Further, if the relative dies, divorces or has financial problems, your child’s lifestyle could be negatively affected. Specifically, in a divorce, your child’s monies may be considered part of the marital property and part or all may be awarded to your relative’s spouse. If the relative dies, the money passes into the relative’s estate and goes to his or her beneficiaries or heirs, which might not be your child. Also, if your relative has to declare bankruptcy, creditors could put a lien on your child’s monies.