Every New Year we come up with resolutions that have a familiar ring: I'm going to lose those 10 (or more) pounds, I'm going to faithfully work out, I'm going to use the dining room table for something other than that stack of mail.
This year, consider resolutions that will have a lifelong impact on your special needs child. While it's often unclear what the future holds for our children, here are a few ideas that you may find helpful:
- Take a good, honest look at your child. What do you see now and what do you see down the road? Will your child be able to work? Live alone? Live in a group home? Write down your observations.
- Consider the type of help will your child need. Financial help? A full or part time caregiver? Special transportation? Who will provide these, and how will they do it?
- Think about what you can do to prepare for your child's future needs and make a list.
- Explore what type of benefits your child may be eligible to receive. Many special needs individuals are eligible for various types of state and federal benefits. Do these benefits have specific age and income rules? Are you familiar with them?
- Review your own legal documents. Are your wills/trusts up to date? If not, now is the time to make the changes.
- If you have not already done so, decide who will care for your child should something happen to you. Once it's been decided, make sure it is in your legal documents.
- Last but not least, take a candid look at your own financial picture. Right now, your child is in good hands. You're providing for all of his needs and wants. But if something happens to you, will there be funds available for this to continue? Who will provide these funds? Do you have a Special Needs Trust in place?
These are some things that you can work on throughout the year. Take them one at a time and start a checklist or journal, checking off your accomplishments as you go along. Revisit them throughout the year and note any changes. While some of these tasks may appear daunting, once you start completing them, you will rest easier knowing that you are succeeding in planning for your child.
To learn which key documents you need to have in place NOW, read this article by Bernard Krooks, JD, CPA, LLM, CELA, founding partner of Littman Krooks LLP.
Protected Tomorrows, Inc. is an advocacy firm that enhances the lives of people with special needs through a comprehensive life planning process.