If you are avoiding thinking about your passing away, and the result your passing will have on your special needs child, then it is time to stop. It may be scary to plan for an unfortunate event, but being unprepared is even scarier.
You may think, How will anyone be able to provide, or care for my child, the way that I do? The only way to insure that your child is properly cared for physically and financially is to put your wishes and instructions in writing.
The easiest way to start planning is to document everything. Write down medical information like the name of your child’s doctor, what medications he or she takes, and what allergies he or she has. Take note of your child’s favorite comfort items, foods, and activities. Also, give details on your child’s schedule or daily routines. All of this can help a caregiver or guardian better address your child’s needs and wants.
It may seem difficult, but take a few minutes each day to update or add to the document. Make sure that you’re updating the appointed caregiver or guardian with the latest information about your child.
Wills and Special Needs Trusts
Often parents with financial resources assume that their family does not qualify for benefits or assistance, and parents without do not know where to begin.
Disinheriting a special needs child of assets, in order to guarantee qualification for Medicaid and other benefits and programs, is a big mistake. There is no guarantee that a trusted guardian will distribute assets according to your wishes.
A better way to begin planning for your child’s financial future is by creating a Supplemental Needs Trust, better known as a Special Needs Trust. This trust allows you to leave assets to your special needs child without disqualifying them from crucial public benefits that can help pay for medical care and housing in the future. The trust also appoints a trustee to handle those funds if your child lacks the ability to make financial decisions on his or her own. You can also name co-trustees, in order to have a close relative and a professional trustee, like an attorney or financial planner, jointly manage the trust.
One way to support the Special Needs Trust is for parents to create a will. With a will, you can designate a guardian for your child, as well as name the special needs trust as the beneficiary of your life insurance policies and retirement plans.
No matter what type of estate planning you are preparing for your special needs child, here are the three main goals to achieve:
- lifetime financial management for your child by a trusted person
- protecting your child’s eligibility for public benefits and programs
- making sure that ample funding is available for your child’s care, especially in the event that public benefits no longer become available.
The best way to protect your child’s future is to start planning for it, and the earlier you begin the better. Don’t feel the need to dive in. Start by taking small steps and keep building on your plans over time.