A team approach to special needs planning involves collaboration among various individuals and professionals to create a comprehensive plan that addresses the unique needs of individuals with special needs. This collaborative effort aims to ensure the well-being and financial security of the individual throughout their lifetime. Key members who may be part of the special needs planning team can include the following:

  1. Individual with Special Needs: The person with special needs is a crucial member of the team. Their preferences, abilities, and goals should be at the forefront of the planning process.
  2. Family Members: Immediate and extended family members play a significant role in understanding the individual’s needs and providing emotional and financial support.
  3. Financial Planner: A financial planner can help assess the individual’s current and future financial needs. They can provide guidance on budgeting, investment strategies, and creating a sustainable financial plan.
  4. Special Needs Attorney: A special needs attorney is well-versed in disability law and can assist in creating legal documents such as special needs trusts, guardianship arrangements, and wills to protect the individual’s interests.
  5. Trustee: The trustee of a special needs trust has an important role to play in the plan and life of the trust’s beneficiary (i.e. the individual with a disability). The responsibilities of the trustee include trust administration according to the terms of the trust document, prudently managing or overseeing the management of trust assets, distributing trust assets, and tax & regulatory reporting. The trustee can be an individual or a professional/corporate entity.
  6. Social Worker or Case Manager: These professionals can provide valuable insights into available social services, support networks, and community resources. They help coordinate services and advocate for the individual’s rights.
  7. Medical Professionals: Doctors, therapists, and healthcare providers can offer input on the individual’s medical needs, treatment plans, and potential future healthcare costs.
  8. Educational Professionals: If the individual is of school age, educators and special education professionals can contribute to the planning process by addressing educational needs, goals, and transition planning.
  9. Government Agencies: Representatives from government agencies responsible for disability services, benefits, and entitlement programs can provide information on available support and benefits.
  10. Employment Specialists: For those capable of working, employment specialists can assist in identifying suitable job opportunities, vocational training, and supported employment programs.
  11. Insurance Advisors: Professionals in the insurance field can help explore options for life insurance, disability insurance, and other coverage to mitigate financial risks.
  12. Advocacy Organizations: Nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups focused on specific disabilities can offer valuable resources, support, and information.

By bringing together this team of professionals and individuals, special needs planning can be more comprehensive, addressing financial, legal, medical, educational, and social aspects of the individual’s life. Regular communication and collaboration among team members are essential for adapting the plan to changing circumstances and ensuring the individual’s well-being.