How to Prepare for the Future of Your Special Needs Child
It isn’t something that any parent wants to think about, but it’s absolutely necessary to plan for your child’s future. We all want to be there for our children as long as they need us, but for some, especially those whose children have special needs, extra measures must be put in place. If you’re not sure where to begin, consider the following suggestions to help you get started.
As you prepare an estate plan with your child’s future in mind, life insurance should be a top priority — especially if you don’t currently have a policy. Life insurance can be the monetary safety net that helps your child in the event of your passing. Finding the right policy is fairly easy and can even be handled online. By plugging in your age, health and coverage amount into a rate calculator, you can get a rough idea of rates you can expect to pay. Once you settle on a policy type and amount, your provider will want to do a thorough screening through a blood test to confirm your health status. This process ensures you get the best premiums in accordance with your health. When it’s time to receive benefits, you can make sure the policy proceeds are transferred to a Special Needs Trust.
Special Needs Trust
A Special Needs Trust will provide funding for your child in the future when they need it after you are gone. Not only will it help your child financially, as it will be managed by a third party, but it won’t affect or count against government funding that your child may rely upon. While inheriting a lump sum of money can disqualify your child from government funding, a Special Needs Trust can ensure that they don’t have to worry. But who should arbitrate for your child?
A Caregiver or Conservator?
A conservator, or guardian of the estate, is a qualified professional that is responsible for your child’s finances. A conservator is legally obliged to act in the best interest of their charge and can manage the Special Needs Trust that you have set up to see to your child’s well-being. A caregiver is often a family member, or sometimes hired through an agency, to help your child with day to day life. They are there to help dress and feed your child, but also to give them companionship and love. The downfall is that many benefits that help support a caregiver end when the child is over the age of 16 unless they meet certain requirements. Whatever path you choose, make sure that you have a written record of the goals you have in mind for your child, and how you want them to be taken care of. Write down a detailed account of a daily routine to be in place for your child, so any caretaker easily understands what makes your child happy and comfortable.
In addition to your child’s financial care, you will also want to consider educational endeavors. It’s a good idea to meet multiple times a year with your child’s educators to understand not only how your child learns, their strengths and weaknesses, but also their interests. If it is possible, your child may be able to, one day, translate their passions into a form of employment. At the very least, you can plan with a future caregiver or conservator the various ways your child can have daily enrichment. As a team, you can focus on your child’s goals, and plan for the ways these goals can be achieved, even after you are gone.
There may be long, long waiting lists to acquire Medicaid for your child. If you’re fortunate enough to not depend on Medicaid, at least you will have the opportunity to decide at a later date what is best for your child. Keep your information with Medicaid up to date, so when you finally are able to get it, there are no hurdles to overcome with updating addresses or phone numbers.
Because of the financial restrictions placed on people with disabilities, planning for and managing the future can be tricky. It’s a good idea to strategize for your child to have help when navigating both their lives and their monetary resources in the future. It isn’t nice to think about, but having the assurance that your child will be taken care of can bring deep relief.