Financial and legal planning for a special needs child is challenging. To protect child and family, advance planning with experienced professionals is necessary.
When your family includes a special needs child, it can be difficult to plan ahead,-- from providing care, education and life experiences to financial planning. A recent New York Daily News article, "How to prepare a financial plan for families with special needs children", explores the planning that needs to take place.
It is estimated that raising a child costs about $250,000. However raising a special needs child can cost up to 10 times that amount. If you are facing this financial challenge, it is important to learn how to protect your family and your money. Five key areas are:
- Assemble your team: Your team should include an elder law attorney, doctor, accountant, and government benefits specialist to help you understand and navigate Social Security, Medicaid and other state and federal government programs.
- Draft a letter of intent: This includes your child’s history, medical needs, doctors, allergies, likes and dislikes, etc., and your personal experience and understanding, all of which will help guide and direct your child’s future trustee and guardian.
- Draft a will: At a minimum, a will gives directions to your child’s guardian and to the courts as to how assets should be moved and allocated.
- Create a Special Needs Trust (SNT): A special needs trust is your most powerful tool to benefit your child and to keep and protect money so that he or she is not disqualified from assistance programs.
- Create a plan for building assets.
Let’s focus on the special needs trust.
Setting up a special needs trust is complex because the laws surrounding special needs trusts are complicated. An experienced Special Needs attorney will help you avoid confusion and make the right decisions.
With your special needs trust in place, secure a financial mechanism that will continue to provide your child with the highest quality of life possible. Many parents wait until it’s too late, or leave money directly to their child, and risk making their child ineligible for public benefits. Completing a SNT will take a big weight off your shoulders.
We salute parents who raise their special needs children in loving and stable environments, doing so can be challenging for the family.
We are honored to have served many parents craft special needs trusts that fit the needs of their special needs children.
Reference: The New York Daily News (April 1, 2016) "How to prepare a financial plan for families with special needs children"
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