Preparing for a child’s adulthood is something that starts at birth. What systems do we put in place to take care of our children when we are gone? We need to get them to be as independent as possible. We need to set up financial and legal tools to protect them. These are some of the matters that keep us up at night
You need to find experts in special needs financial and legal planning. Unless you want your entire retirement and future estate wiped out by the costs of your child’s disabilities, you need to make sure you get your money matters set up to protect your family and you. With current laws, if you set up your disabled child as a direct beneficiary, your child will lose most government benefits that your tax dollars pay to support and your child deserves. Your advisors will tell you how to set up a special needs trust as beneficiary instead.
You also need to decide whether your child will be able to handle his or her own financial matters and other concerns when he/she is 18 years old. If not, then you must set up legal guardianship, power of attorney, health proxy, and more. You need a special needs lawyer.
Here are some resources. Patch.com and Barbara Synnott do not necessarily endorse these practitioners. They are listed here for your convenience. If you have a lawyer and financial planner whom you trust, make some appointments to set up the Special Needs Trust and the other legal documents you need. Talk with your personal banker, too. Of course, don’t forget your will (which should include a letter about what you want to happen for your child with special needs when you pass away).
Academy of Special Needs Planners: http://www.specialneedsanswers.com/
Autism Today: http://www.cfp.net/enewsletter/Jan2007.html#3
Donna Stefans is an attorney who serves on the board of directors of HorseAbility. Her law firm has special needs specialists available to assist in your planning. Stefans Law Group: http://www.stefanslawgroup.com/special-needs-care-planning.php
James Torykian and Steve Ehrens are Northwestern Mutual Life agents with expertise in special needs planning. James reads this blog and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
National Alliance of Mental Illness: http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=Special_Needs_Estate_Planning
New York Life Insurance: http://www.newyorklife.com/learn-and-plan/special-needs-caring-loved-ones-under-unique-circumstances-
New York State Bar Association: http://search.nysba.org/search
Northwestern Mutual Life: PDF on Resources: http://www.northwesternmutual.com/financial-guidance/personal/family-life/Documents/29493702.pdf
Special Needs Trusts, Organizations: http://wnylc.com/health/entry/4/
The CPA Journal: http://www.nysscpa.org/cpajournal/2005/1105/perspectives/p12.htm
United Cerebral Palsy: http://www.ucpn.org/index.php/site/support_detail/free_estate_planning_kits/
Wall Street Journal excellent article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122351155944317491.html
As always, I welcome feedback, comments, questions at email@example.com.