Providing for a Loved One with Special Needs
Individuals with disabilities often rely on their parents or guardians for lifelong financial assistance. In many cases, dependent persons are not able to sustain a comfortable lifestyle by their own means. That's why it's so important that parents and guardians plan ahead for the time when the individual—whether a child or an adult—is no longer under their direct care.
As a parent or guardian, you know best what types of care and financial resources your loved one will need throughout her life. To meet those needs, consider the following:
- Special Needs Trust. This is a legal document, prepared by an attorney with expertise in special needs law, for the benefit of an individual—a child, spouse, or surviving parent—with a disability. It may be created either while the grantor is alive (an inter vivos SNT) or be part of a will (a testamentary SNT). A child, spouse, or parent with disabilities often has unique and long-term needs that are not provided for by Medicaid and other government benefit programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The SNT operates to meet those needs by supplementing, not replacing, government benefits.
- Financial Products. Select appropriate financial products to fund the special needs trust, which may include, for example, life insurance.
- Letter of Intent. Although not a legal document, a letter of intent states your wishes for your dependent's future with regard to personal preference and habits, health issues, educational goals, housing, etc., and can be enormously helpful to others who, one day, may be involved in your child's care.
- Support Groups. Establish ties with relevant support groups and nonprofit associations.