Establishing a Safety Net for Your Special Needs Child

5 steps to protect your special needs child

It’s the worry that haunts every parent of a special needs child: What happens to my child if something happens to me?  However, you can make preparations now to guarantee your child’s needs are met in the event you precede your child in death or become unable to provide care.  Here are some solutions that offer security and peace of mind. 

 
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Solidify finances

A solid financial plan is vital to the future security of your child.  As Kiplinger explains, raising a child typically costs around $250,000; raising a special needs child can cost double that amount, and the total goes much higher if your child requires care for an entire lifetime.  There are several things you can do to make sure your financial situation is secure and ensure your child has a safety net. 

Evaluate need

Before you can firm up your plans, you should clarify your expectations of need.  For instance, there are long-term care insurance policies to help pay for your child’s needs, but different plans provide for different levels of care.  There are three kinds of long-term care to consider:

  • Skilled care, which is provided by medical professionals all day, every day.
  • Intermediate care, which is intermittent care provided by medical professionals.
  • Custodial care, which is assistance with daily needs such as bathing, eating and running errands.  This level of care could be provided by a family member or other layperson.

Once you evaluate what kind of care is most likely needed, you can decide what solution best fits your circumstances.

Budget wisely

An important step in creating financial security is establishing a practical monthly budget.  It’ll help you move forward with your other goals.  Even with good health insurance coverage, meeting copay obligations for your family members and having a cushion to manage unforeseen out-of-pocket expenses can wipe out your wallet if you aren’t sufficiently prepared.  By planning to max out your medical expenses every year and setting aside a 1/12th of that total every month, you create a situation where medical emergencies aren’t financial emergencies.  This way you can ensure your short-term financial future remains in good standing, which will make meeting long-term goals easier. 

Talk to an attorney about special needs planning

Consider discussing your financial goals with an estate planning attorney who is familiar special needs family situations.  According to US News & World Report, these professionals can give you insights into what plans and programs best fit your circumstances.  Two of the options you would probably discuss are:

  • Special needs trust, which allows you to save money through a life insurance policy, estate or another source.  The assets are owned by the trust and managed by a trustee, which ensures your child can still receive government assistance.
  • ABLE account, contributions to which are not tax deductible, though this account allows parents to save money for their child’s future needs.  Withdrawals are tax-free so long as they are used for certain kinds of expenditures.

Home modifications

Finances aren’t your child’s only safety net.  You should also carefully evaluate your child’s living environment.  Are you providing a situation at home that encourages as much independence as possible?  Does your child have a condition that could involve added mobility concerns in the future?  Planning and making certain home modifications to accommodate disabilities can help your child remain as independent as possible.

For instance, if your home doesn’t offer a step-free entrance, a ramp may be necessary.  Most homeowners spend an average of $1,753 to have a disability ramp built.  Another suggestion is installing ADA compliant appliances in your kitchen.  And another common home modification is building an accessible bathroom.  The variety of useful modifications can be a bit overwhelming, so consider using a home accessibility checklist to make a thorough assessment.

Amity Law Group's attorneys can assist with special needs planning

Providing for your special needs child is vital to your peace of mind.  Contact our Special Needs Planning attorneys to evaluate your finances and your home environment to ensure a comfortable situation.  A few wise choices means you can establish a safety net which keeps your child secure now and in the future.


 

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