Planning for The Future for a Child with Special Needs

Jim McKinley

Having a child with special needs comes with unique concerns and extraordinary worries for the future. Who can you trust to care for your child if you become ill or pass away? In addition to who, you’ll likely be worrying about

what the cost of that care will be and how will it be paid for. To ensure your child is protected and cared for, you’ll need to be able to answer important questions, which will create instructions to pass on to family members, caregivers, trustees and anyone else who will be responsible for some aspect of your child’s care.

Asking Who: Who will care for your child?

Create a last will and testament that names a list of caregivers and guardians for your child. Be sure to talk with the people you choose ahead of time so that this commitment won’t come as a surprise. You’ll want to be very specific about beneficiaries so there’s no dispute about who cares for your child and the assets they are given to provide that care.

Asking What: What kind of life do you want them to have?

Every special needs child is different, and setting them up for the most successful life possible is the goal of any parent. Make sure to write out a detailed life care plan, which includes each and every feature of your child’s day-to-day care. You can explain special dietary needs, anxiety triggers and activities to do or to avoid. It’s also important that it includes additional services your child receives, like after-school programs or a service dog.

Asking When: When do you need to have this all set up?

Talking to a lawyer is the first step in getting your plan in place. The important thing to recognize is that planning for your special needs child’s future isn’t a one-time event. You’ll need to update the life plan as he or she gets older, adjust your will if you have other children, and change designated beneficiaries if people pass away or financial situations change.

Asking Where: Where will they live?