If you are the primary caregiver or point person for a loved one with a disability or other special needs, it’s important that you have a life care plan in place to help ensure that their care will continue if you yourself are faced with a personal emergency or extended illness. What will happen to your loved one’s quality of life if you are not able to oversee the details, even for a short time? Who will step in at your death or if you are ill to make sure that your child or loved one has those critical things that affect his or her quality of life, such as certain equipment, special treatments, outings and activities. Having a backup plan in place for these contingencies is as important as planning for the day-to-day care for your loved one.
Without such planning, it is possible that your state and/or federal government will make the decisions about benefits, medical care, finances, living arrangements, custodians and guardians. Parents of special needs children know that this is not an acceptable option. Think of special needs planning as building a house for your child. Every segment of the house is important and must be designed to support the entire house so that it can weather any storm. The goal is to provide for your child when you are no longer able to and to utilize the available public benefits without disruption. With proper planning, your loved one can receive an inheritance, accept financial gifts from friends and loved ones, and most importantly, maintain a comfortable standard of living, without compromising access to those government benefits.
Four Steps to a Solid Special Needs Financial Plan
1. Legal documents are the foundation of this special planning. Wills and trusts should be in place to express and execute your message, to be the voice of your child when you can no longer serve in that role. Included in this process is the choice of guardians and trustees. Who will care for your child and monitor and protect the benefits and services they need. A particular type of trust designed specifically for your child – a special needs trust – may also be required.
2. Financial planning serves is the walls of your home. Throughout the planning process, you will discover and consider strategies for providing and managing resources and benefits for you as caregiver and for your child during your lifetime and beyond. You will learn how to properly fund a special needs trust and understand what those funds can do for your Childs future when you are not around to provide income.
3. The Letter of Intent is the roof. This document gives parents the opportunity to record and share information that will be needed for their child’s everyday care and quality of life. It provides direction to medical care providers, daily care providers, and family members.
4. Annual reviews. Every house needs periodic repairs. Your special needs plan will need adjustments and improvements as your circumstances change. Be sure to update your plan accordingly.
Planning is the only way to ensure your special child’s future well being. Take action today.
Life Care Planning Process for the disabled.
Resources for the Disabled
Special Needs Planning
Special Needs Trust Services*
Financial Strategies for Women
Free to Parents
“With Open Arms” financial planning guide from Easter Seals
“Making Plans” financial planning guide from the National Down Syndrome Society
Trial Subscription to Exceptional Parent Magazine
Letter of Intent CD
Feel free to contact Gwen Faulkner at 856-673-4045 or visit us on our website: www.Faulkner-Financial.com Gwen Faulkner began to dedicate her practice to the special needs community five years ago. More than 50% of her practice is now spent working with families and a team of professionals to help design a life care plan to help better their children’s future.
*Trust services can be funded by The MassMutual Trust Company, FSB, a wholly-owned stock subsidiary of MassMutual, or seek trust services from other sources.
MassMutual’s SpecialCare program provides access to information, specialists and financial products and services that can help improve the quality of life for people with disabilities and special needs.
Gwen Faulkner is a Registered Representative of and offers securities through MML Investors Services, Inc. Member SIPC. Supervisory office: 2 Bala Plaza, Suite 901, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004, (610) 766-3000. Insurance offered through Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) and other fine companies.