Special Needs Planning Basics

If you are the parent or guardian of a child or an adult with special needs, the day-to-day demands alone can be overwhelming.  Thinking about the future can seem like mission impossible. When you consider how critical you are to the daily well-being of your loved one, how will you and your family ensure their future, especially if you are not there? Define. No one knows what your child, or disabled adult under your care, needs better than you. Before you worry about complex legal, governmental, and medical concerns, take some time to think about the life you want for your loved one. What will it look like? What aspects of your loved one’s day-to-day living need to be addressed to ensure a high quality of life? What will a typical day look like? Who will be there to fill your role? What potential challenges might there be? Write it all down. To make sure you capture the most information possible, you will want to take your time doing this, and you also will want to revisit and update it in years ahead. Communicate. Once you are clear, you’ll want to make sure your wishes are expressed.  While not legally binding, an attorney can also assist you in writing a letter of intent to serve as a detailed care roadmap, outlining important considerations and insights invaluable to anyone who assumes care for your loved one. You likewise will want to prepare a will and/or trust to direct how your estate will be used after your passing, and, if necessary, to nominate a future guardian. Provide. Structuring assets is critical for the long-term provision and care of your loved ones. An important consideration is to assess which government benefits might be available, and how eligibility is determined. Whether these are means-tested benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid, or entitlements based on eligibility such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Medicare, you’ll need to know how to appropriately structure your financial plan to ensure your loved one receives the care and support he or she needs. One answer may be a special needs trust that can provide financial resources while still ensuring your loved one remains eligible for important government benefits. Don’t Go It Alone. There is help. Attorneys such as Butenhof & Bomster who specialize in working with the families and caregivers of individuals with special needs can bring valuable knowledge and help in translating your wishes and your loved one’s care needs into a solid plan for the future. Knowing you’ve done what you can to provide vital care, resources, and protection for your loved one tomorrow can give you invaluable peace of mind today.