Raising a child with special needs presents unique hurdles for moms and dads. That said, it has been shown that for many parents, raising a child with a disability allows them to experience rewards that outweigh the challenges. But what happens if you are unable to care for your child in the future, however? Prepare for this possibility now to ensure their security and promote your own peace of mind. Get started with these tips.
Lay the Groundwork for Their Future Financial Needs
To ensure your child will have the financial means they need to support themselves, establish a special needs trust. You set aside money and name an administrator of the trust. This individual will carry out the financial management of the funds in the event that you are unable to, such as withdrawing money for your child’s physical therapy or various living costs.
However, don’t dismiss the possibility that your child will earn their own money. Special needs schools help kids living with everything from sensory challenges to autism, giving them the tools they need to function in the world and even get a job. This can also help young people integrate into society and add joy to their life as they find a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their work. The income they earn can supplement the funds of a trust.
Create a Legally Binding Will
Your will determines what happens to your assets after you pass on. This could include tangible items like cars, houses, and family heirlooms, as well as valuables like stocks and bonds, pension accounts, and savings. If your kid can’t manage assets on their own — for instance, due to mental disability — choose someone to manage the assets on their behalf.
Guardianship is another point to address in your will. If your special needs child is unable to care for themselves (or if they are a minor), the guardian is the person who cares for them. Finally, you must designate an executor for the will. This person is responsible for overseeing the will’s execution after you have passed on. They oversee the transfer of assets, such as the retitling of the family home in your child’s name.
You want to ensure your will is legally binding and can’t be disputed following your death. As such, it’s important to see an attorney to draw up the paperwork according to your state’s guidelines. This will involve signing it in front of witnesses, for example. To find a lawyer in your area, check your state’s bar directory. Once the document is complete, store one copy in your home in a fireproof safe and one copy with your lawyer.
Make Arrangements for Your Own Future
Say you are ill or injured and can’t make decisions for yourself regarding your own finances or medical treatment. Your special needs child shouldn’t handle this burden. Who can help? Designate a power of attorney to do the job. A financial power of attorney determines money matters while a healthcare power of attorney makes decisions about medical treatments if you are unable to (for example, if you should be moved to a care facility if you get dementia).
Finally, you can mitigate the toll your eventual death will take on your child by preplanning your funeral. While it might sound morbid, this allows you to ensure your wishes are followed as you can specify everything from whether you want to be buried or cremated, to what songs you want to be played at your service. Also, if possible, invest in burial insurance to cover the costs. To figure out how much coverage you need, assess the average price of funerals in your area by visiting local providers and asking for their rates.
Follow these tips and you will be ensuring a bright future for your special needs child, even when you aren’t able to care for them. While it can be a scary thought, knowing that you have prepared for the possibility will likely be a relief. Once these tasks are done, you can go back to simply enjoying your role as a parent to a special kid.
Amanda Henderson is a mom to two wonderful, active boys and a preschool teacher. Her hope is that she can combine the knowledge and experience from both to educate others and keep our kiddos safe.