Parents of children with special needs have to consider their child’s immediate and long-term financial issues. Often, one parent may need to quit work or reduce hours, often reducing family income. Given the cost services and support can create, families often find themselves one crisis away from financial ruin. Here are a few key ways to prepare:
Name a guardian and a trustee.
A guardian takes care of your child if you die before your child is an adult. Typically, a guardian should not have control of a child’s money; this is the trustee’s job.1
A trustee controls the money and handles investment assets thoughtfully and disperses them responsibly as needed. The trustee will make objective decisions when things are stressful or difficult. The trustee can be a family member or trusted, dependable friend. The trustee may be an institution, such as a trust company.2
Letter of intent
This is one you write describing your child’s history, current status and your hopes and dreams for your child’s future. It is not a legal document, but courts and others rely on this letter for guidance in understanding your child and your wishes. Keep a copy with your will, and make sure your child’s guardian has a copy. Be sure to update the letter yearly or whenever something changes. The letter of intent should cover your child’s daily routine as well as daily, weekly and monthly schedules. It should include your child’s medication schedule, his likes and dislikes and any helpful community resources. With the letter, create a list of physicians, nurses, therapists and other medical support. Include the office addresses and phone numbers and, whenever possible, personal addresses, cell phone numbers and pager numbers of key team members.3
Establish a special needs trust
Protect your child’s ability to access necessary government programs and services by creating a Special Needs Trust. Children and adults with special needs are eligible for many governmental services as long as they do not own assets worth more than a certain amount. Typically, no more than $2,000, and in some states as little as $1,000.4 Without a Special Needs Trust, someone with special needs could be disqualified from programs and could be required to pay back benefits already received.
Establishing a Special Needs Trust allows anyone to leave money, life insurance proceeds or property to the trust vs. directly to a child with special needs. The trust also protects against creditors and claims.5 Your trustee will have authority to use funds from the trust to help care for your child.6
TO BE CONTINUED! There are more ways to prepare legally and financially, and I will continue this column in the August Oyster Pointer. Please look for it!
Footnotes, disclosures and sources
Lions Bridge Financial Advisors (LBFA) nor LPL Financial provide tax or legal advice. Please consult with your tax or legal advisor regarding your specific situation. Securities and advisory services through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor. Member FINRA/SIPC.
All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please consult your financial advisor for further information. These are the views of LBFA and not necessarily those of LPL Financial, and this information should not be construed as investment advice.
1. “Financial Planning for Kids with Special Needs.” KidsHealth. kidshealth.org/en/parents/needs-planning.html# [Accessed June 6, 2017.]
2. “Financial Planning for Kids with Special Needs.” Morgan Stanley. morganstanley.com/articles/special-needs-children [Accessed June 6, 2017.]
3. “Financial Planning for Kids with Special Needs.” KidsHealth. kidshealth.org/en/parents/needs-planning.html# [Accessed June 6, 2017.]
4. “Caring for Dependents with Special Needs.” Northwestern Mutual. northwesternmutual.com/
with-special-needs [Accessed June 6, 2017.]
5. “Financial Planning for a Child with Special Needs.” Forbes. forbes.com/sites/northwestern
mutual/2015/09/30/financial-planning-for-a-child-with-special-needs/#1ea02be717dd [Accessed June 6, 2017.]
6. “Financial Planning for Families with Special Needs Children.” Morgan Stanley. morganstanley.com/articles/special-needs-children [Accessed June 6, 2017.]