There are three questions that can plague the parent of a child with special needs:
- How can I care for my child?
- Who will care for my child if I pass or become unable to do so?
- Who will care for me as I age or become disabled?
To plan for the future care of your child with disabilities, you may want to consider the following steps:
- Legal Guardianship: Establish legal guardianship for your child. This involves appointing a person to assume responsibility for your child’s well-being if you are unable to do so. Consult with a lawyer to create a guardianship plan.
- Will and Testament: Create a will that outlines your wishes for the care of your child. Specify who you would like to be the guardian and provide instructions on how you want your child’s needs to be met.
- Special Needs Trust: Consider setting up a special needs trust. This allows you to provide financial support for your child’s care without jeopardizing their eligibility for government assistance programs.
- Naming a Corporate Trustee & Successor Trustee: Well-meaning parents, siblings, or other loved ones may volunteer to serve as a trustee of a special needs trust, and this can work for some. For others, the responsibilities of serving as trustee may be overwhelming. This is where a corporate trustee, can help to ensure your child’s well-being is planned for and secure – despite what may occur.
- Letter of Intent: Write a detailed letter of intent that includes information about your child’s routines, preferences, medical history, and any other relevant details. This document can serve as a guide for future caregivers.
- Communication with Family and Friends: Discuss your plans with close family members and friends to ensure they are aware of your wishes and can offer support.
- Emergency Contacts: Maintain an updated list of emergency contacts and relevant medical information. Make sure that key people (family, friends, caregivers) are aware of this information.
It’s crucial to consult with an attorney who specializes in special needs planning to ensure that your legal documents are comprehensive and in accordance with the laws in your state.