Planning For The Future - 10 Tips For Special Needs Families
PNB MetLife 20-05-2016 01:02:59 PM
When caring for a child or loved one with special needs, it’s important to understand what resources are available to you. What steps can be taken to provide quality care? What financial security will be vital to your dependent’s lifetime needs? Should get a disability insurance?
With proper financial planning, you can protect your loved ones and help secure their well-being today and tomorrow. Below are 10 tips to consider for families and caretakers:
- Plan for the future medical, educational, and housing needs of your dependent. Will your dependent need weekly/daily medical treatments? Will they need funds for college? Would they live in a group home or need their own space?
- Review beneficiary designations. As receiving federal aid is possible in certain cases, you should check whether you and your dependents would be eligible for it. Check as well with close friends and family to see if they have designated your dependent to receive any inheritance from their estate – if they have, it’s important that they leave this amount to your dependent’s special needs trust (see Step 8).
- Have a family meeting. Get together to discuss everyone’s concerns and options for the future care of your dependent. This is also a good time to broach the beneficiary designation issue. In case of an accident, families should also discuss and check whether their health insurance covers sufficiently.
- Speak with a special needs financial professional and create a team of professionals to assist you. It's important to pull together a support team that can help guide you through the variety of available options and the financial planning. The composition of the team may vary depending on your unique situation, but it should include an attorney, and perhaps a health professional and a school guidance counsellor.
- Contact local non-profit organisations for additional support. Non-profits may be able to provide resources that can help with planning or that supplement the standard government-provided services. Start by contacting a non-profit dedicated to your dependent's special need. This is a valuable alternative, if you are not eligible for governmental aid.
- Apply for government benefits. Benefits may help provide for your dependent's needs in the form of medical treatments and supplies, equipment, financial assistance and more. Visit your local social security office to find out what benefits disabled people may qualify for.
- Prepare your last will and testament. A will declares how you want your estate to be distributed and allows you to select a guardian for your dependent. It can prevent automatic asset distributions that might leave your dependent with special needs any assets that could disqualify them for federal aid.
- Consider setting up a special needs trust. This allows caregivers to provide for their dependent's care and quality of life, without disqualifying them for federal assistance. The money in the trust can be contributed gradually over the years, or the trust can be designated as a beneficiary of an inheritance or life insurance policy. Funds must be used to enhance the dependent's quality of life, and can help to supplement standard services and benefits provided by government agencies.
- Apply for guardianship. Caregivers must apply for a guardianship to maintain legal control over financial and health insurance decisions once a dependent reaches the age of 18. As this procedure might take a while, so you may want to start early. There are different levels available, depending on the needs of the disabled people.
- Prepare a Letter of Intent. Although not legally binding, this document is important for providing direction for the person or persons who will care for your dependent with special needs and should be stored with other vital documents, such as your will. Think of it as a ‘letter to the caregiver’ – it can cover day-to-day care routines such as what medical assistance is needed as well as quality of life guidance.
Although governmental aid and benefits from non-profits are possible, families should also consider getting a disability insurance. It’s important to remember that each family’s circumstances are unique, so caregivers should consider their situation carefully, and seek assistance with their own special needs planning.