Raising a child is expensive, and can cost a quarter of a million dollars, not including college. For a child with special needs, that cost can more than double.1 If you’re the parent of a special-needs child, it’s vital to ensure your child will continue to be provided for after you’re gone. It can be difficult to contemplate, but with patience, love, and perseverance, a long-term strategy is attainable and can help bring some peace of mind.
Envisioning a Life After You
Just as every child with special needs is unique, so too are the challenges facing their families when planning for the long-term. Think about the potential needs of your child. Will he or she require daily custodial care? Ongoing medical treatments? Will your child live alone or in a group home? Can family members assume some of the care? Answers to these and other questions can help form the vision of what may need to be done to plan for your child’s care.
Planning Your Estate
Without proper planning, your child’s lifetime needs can quickly outstrip your funds. One resource is government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid, which your child may qualify for when he or she becomes an adult. Because such government programs have low-asset thresholds for qualification, you may want to consider whether to make property transfers to your special-needs child is advisable.
You should also make sure you have an up-to-date will that reflects your wishes. Consider creating a special-needs trust, the assets of which can be structured to fund your child’s care without disqualifying him or her from government assistance.2
Identifying a Caregiver
All affected family members should be involved in the decision-making process. If possible, it’s best to have a united front of surviving family members to care for your child after you’ve passed on.
In order for a caregiver to make financial and healthcare decisions after your child reaches adulthood, the caregiver must be appointed as guardian. This can take time, so start setting this in motion as soon as you can.
To do this, you can write a “Letter of Intent” to the caregiver and family to express your wishes, along with information about your child’s care. This isn’t a legal document, but it may help to communicate your desires. Store this letter alongside your will in a safe place.
Planning for a child with special needs can be complicated and overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. Working with loved ones and qualified professionals can help you navigate the various facets of this challenge. If we can help, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
2Using a trust involves a complex set of tax rules and regulations. Before moving forward with a trust, consider working with a professional who is familiar with the rules and regulations.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. Neither Calton & Associates nor any of its representatives participated in the creation of this material. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2019 FMG Suite.