Below are 5 steps to help caregivers get started in preparing for the financial future of their dependent with special needs. Each circumstance is unique, so caregivers should consider their own situation carefully.
Stay tuned for the next 5 steps next month!
Step 1 — Plan for future medical, educational and housing needs for your dependent.
Start by thinking about what your dependent’s needs will be in the future — and develop your financial strategy based on these projections. Will they need weekly/daily medical treatments? Will they need funds for college? Would they live in a group home or need their own space?
Step 2 — Review beneficiary designations
To continue to receive federal aid, dependents with special needs cannot have any assets in their name that is generally worth more than $2,000. Check with close friends and family to see if they have designated your dependent to receive any inheritance or insurance benefits from their estate — if they have, it’s important that they leave this amount to your dependent’s special needs trust (see number eight on this list for information on trusts). Don’t let well-intentioned friends and family unknowingly cause your dependent to lose access to valuable resources.
Step 3 — Have a family meeting to discuss your dependent’s future needs.
Just as caring for a dependent with special needs is a family affair, so is the related planning. With the thoughts that you have facilitated your dependent’s special needs throughout their life, meet with your family members to discuss their concerns and options for future care. This is also a good time to broach the beneficiary designation issue discussed above.
Step 4 — Speak with a financial professional with special needs experience and create a team of professionals to assist you in planning.
Once you have determined the current and future financial needs of your dependent with special needs, it’s important to pull together a support team that can help guide you through the variety of options available to you and your family. The composition of the team may vary depending on your unique situation, but it should include an attorney, and perhaps a health professional and a school guidance counselor, among others.
Step 5 — Contact local nonprofit organizations for additional resource support.
Your local nonprofit may be able to provide resources that can help with planning or that supplement the standard services provided by government agencies. A good starting place is to first contact a nonprofit dedicated to your dependent’s special need.