When there is someone in your life who will require special needs planning, you already understand the unique circumstances and challenges that will be faced. And as you get older, you might not be able to care for the loved ones in your life who require special attention. That’s why it’s so important that as you plan for other things in life, you also start special needs planning. Let’s look at why and when you should start planning and the steps you can take.
As you age, it can get harder to care for those in your life who have particular needs when it comes to the manner they live. You want to ensure that when you are gone, or are no longer capable of taking care of them yourself, they will be in a safe and comfortable environment, with all of their health needs met.
While it can be tough to think of a time when you or someone you love can’t take on the responsibility of tending to this special person in your life, this is not something you should ignore. If planning causes you to get emotional and distraught, take small amounts of time out each day to do a little planning. You don’t have to do it all in one day, but once you finish the process, you’ll be able to rest assured that your loved ones will have security.
The sooner you begin the planning process, the better off you’ll be. However, even if you feel that you should have done this years ago, know that it is never too late to get started on special needs planning. If you find that you keep pushing it back, think about involving someone else in the project to hold you accountable for the block of time you set aside for special needs planning.
Each person is unique in what living arrangements and services they must have, and how much help they will require. Some with special needs will demand consistent therapy sessions, while others will be able to have a job, but not be able to live alone. So, even if you know that your child, or the person you are a guardian of, is very capable and thriving, you should still take the proper steps for planning to ensure all legalities are covered.
Whether you’re just starting out, or you have some of the planning already completed, it is wise to bring in an experienced attorney who understand elder law, estate planning, and special needs care. Because all of these go hand-in-hand when preparing for the future of yourself and your loved once, they’ll be able to save you time and money (and frustration) when deciding each step.
Simply said, this is not the time to try to save money by setting up legal instruments on your own. You’ll need to set up a “special needs trust” to keep money that you and others have provided. There are many types of trusts, as well as rules, and it is crucial for your loved ones that it be set up correctly. An estate planning attorney will be sure that the trust not only prepared the right way, they will also discuss your circumstances so you will have chosen the best trust. You don’t have to put money in the trust right away, but you should go ahead and set one up. Your attorney will handle the paperwork.
You’ll also need to write your will to include what assets you are leaving to your loved ones, and to name a guardian and trustee. This is an important time to bring in an estate planning attorney to ensure everything will be done correctly.
Once you’ve accomplished the tasks listed above, you’ll want to talk to your family about the details of the situation. While the guardian and trustee will probably already be notified, it’s important that you educate others that are close to you and aware of your situation. You’ll also need to apply for power of attorney if the special needs person in your life is over eighteen because he or she will be considered an adult.
Now that you have a plan, it’s time to start saving money based on the information you have. You should have a good idea of how much it will take to care for the special needs person in your life. Remember to include those circumstances that may not be an expense yet, but could possibly occur in the future such as special therapies and in-home care.
You’ll also want to write a letter of intent with all of the essential information about the person’s daily routine in detail, contact information of the doctors and therapists that are seen, and any medication that is taken and at what dose. Keep this updated and available for the guardian as well. Take care in planning, so you know that your loved is cared for in the future. Continue to keep everyone involved updated and informed.