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Special Care Planning

What will happen when you're no longer able to care for your dependent?

The single most important issue on the mind of caregivers of a dependent with special needs, regardless of the dependent's age, is what will happen to my dependent after I'm gone? Who's going to look after my dependent's best interests? Who's going to step into my shoes? Will my dependent be happy, healthy, and secure?

Yet, many caregivers are not familiar with the steps needed to plan for lifetime financial assistance for their dependents with special needs.

Planning today can help with recover from the unexpected tomorrows, and give you and your family peace of mind knowing your loved one will continue to have the same quality of life they deserve.

The mission of the Special Care Planners at Creative Financial Strategies, is to help families plan for the future of their dependents with special needs by providing education and possible financial solutions, which can help maintain a lifetime of quality care.

We specifically help families:

  • Gain a greater understanding of government benefits
  • Understand some of the techniques available to help preserve government benefit eligibility for SSI and Medicaid
  • Understand financial issues in special needs planning, including funding special needs trusts
  • Understand the benefits of a Letter of Intent
  • Learn about the role of a guardian and conservator with respect to their special needs dependent
  • Determine how much money is needed to fund a lifetime of quality care

 

Caring for a person with special needs takes special planning. Taking steps now can help secure your dependent’s well-being, today and tomorrow. Areas you should consider include your dependent’s legal, financial, medical, and educational needs.

Legal
Addressing legal issues is a crucial step in planning for the future. Creating and planning your estate is vital to meeting your dependent’s lifetime needs. These issues fall into three main categories: wills, guardianships, and special needs trusts.

Financial
You want the best for your dependent’s lifetime care, but sometimes sufficient financial resources to meet those needs may not be available. The death of one or both caregivers can easily disrupt the continuation of your dependent’s financial assurance. Figuring out what your dependent is likely to need is tricky. Ask yourself: What type of life do you envision for your loved one with special needs? How much money will he/she need for quality lifetime care?
And the unique supplies, equipment, treatments and procedures a child needs can strain even families with significant personal assets. Fortunately, financial relief may be available. State and federal government programs, community resources, Social Security benefits, private foundations, medical insurance and special education resources provide aid. Consult city, county, state and federal agencies for help in answering financial aid questions.

Medical
Specialized medical treatment may be needed for individuals with special needs, sometimes beginning in a neo-natal intensive care unit and other times the need for such treatments arise much later. You need to take precautions to ensure that you make the most of your medical insurance coverage. Otherwise, you could be left holding the bill—or a large part of it.

Educational
As a special needs caregiver, you can take steps to make sure your dependent gets the best education possible. To do so requires becoming an active advocate and participant in your dependent’s educational plan. The first step is knowing the special education laws and what they provide, such as Early Intervention, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Individualized Education Program (IEP), Transition from School to Adult Life, and Due Process.

Every family is unique and planning will vary. But what is common for everyone is the importance to plan, and most importantly plan correctly and update periodically.
Create a team of ‘special needs’ professionals to assist you with planning.

We are sure you have heard that it takes a village to raise a child. The same is true for special needs planning. To do this you will need to build a team of experts.

The team should consist of people who are experienced in planning for a person with a disability, including a special needs financial advisor, special needs attorney, advocacy organizations, etc.

It is important to know that family members and friends can all take an active role in the planning process; i.e. grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and friends. Invite family/friends over for a meeting to discuss the roles you would like for them to take on in your dependent’s future; what the role entails, and most importantly discuss if they are willing to take on the role. Involving family and friends with the planning process can help lessen the emotional, legal, and financial issues they may face once they take on the new role, and also provide assurance for caregivers, as well as family members and friends.

National non-profit organizations have local offices all over the country and are a great free resource for information about your loved one’s diagnosis, support groups, and even possible services your dependent may benefit from. Contact a non-profit organization to find out if there is a local chapter in your area. You can also contact your state and local government agencies to obtain a list of resources

As part of the special needs planning process, you should complete a Letter of Intent. This document provides direction for the person or persons who will care for your dependent with special needs.
Although this is not a legally binding document, it can help ensure that future caregivers understand your wishes for your loved one with special needs. It will also allow the caregiver to more quickly learn how to deliver the very best care.

You should include as much detail as possible in your Letter of Intent; medical history, daily care needs, housing and services, as well as your specific wishes and expectations as they relate to your dependent’s future. It is a working document for the future caregiver to follow.

One of the best ways to get started developing this letter is to think of a day in the life of your dependent. What are his or her habits? What are his or her routines? What makes him or her upset?

Contact us to learn more about creating a Letter of Intent and how we can provide you with a template to help get you started.

As a caregiver of a loved one with special needs, you probably have already learned it's a much more challenging experience to get the best possible services and plans in place if you go it alone. Your Special Care Planner may be the most robust source for information and help but the information here will help you on your special needs planning journey as well.

The Arc
www.thearc.org

Autism Society
www.autism-society.org

Huntington's Disease Society of America
www.hdsa.org

L.A. Goal
www.lagoal.org

TASH
www.tash.org

Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance
www.tsalliance.org

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP)
www.ucp.org