Although special needs planning can seem overwhelming, it is important to begin identifying what your son or daughter will need throughout his or her life and the what-ifs for when you are no longer there.
Step 1: What Will Be Needed?
Step 2: Protecting Your Child's Needs Into Adulthood
- A future needs assessment taking into consideration your child's disability and anticipated resources - either from public programs like Medicaid and SSI or through private funds.
- Tracking regular and intermittent expenses to give you a baseline that includes the costs associated with your child's day-to-day living
- Contact nonprofits for people with disabilities that offer support and education as well as the invaluable opportunity to connect with and learn from the experiences of others.
- Get a sense of the total amount of care your child will need over his/her life expectancy. Some financial service providers have created online calculators to help project future costs for individuals with special needs.
Once you’ve calculated how much you’ll need to save, remember that special needs trusts (SNTs) and ABLE accounts are effective tools to provide financial support to someone with disabilities into adulthood, largely because they protect eligibility for Medicaid and SSI, which prohibit recipients from possessing more than $2,000 in countable personal assets. As you go farther down the special needs planning road and establish a SNT and/or ABLE account, there are several additional things to keep in mind:
- Naming a Trustee (for a trust) or Person with Signature Authority (for an ABLE account): This person will be responsible for administering funds from the SNT or ABLE account should your son or daughter not be able to manage his or her own money.
- Will and Estate Planning: Establishing an estate plan that includes special needs language is critical because it will ensure that your child's inheritance will not disqualify him or her from important public benefits.
- Incapacity Planning: When your child turns 18, he or she becomes an adult, and unless you’ve set up a guardianship or your child has executed power of attorney documents, you will no longer have control over his or her affairs.