Building a Resource Manual for Future Caregivers
Any parent of a child with special needs understands the amount of effort that can go into providing care for their loved one. Along with the roles that come with being the parent in any family, additional responsibilities such as the management of daily schedules, coordination of medical care, therapy and supports can prove to be a lot. Over time it can become less taxing as routines are developed, parents develop best practices (through trial and error) and begin to understand how to most efficiently provide the loving support their child needs.
One responsibility most parents tend to overlook is working to provide future guardians and caregivers the education necessary to do the same. While there is no all-inclusive list that could possibly provide future caregivers all of the information parents obtain over time, the guide below can serve as an effective start. Our recommendation is for every parent to create a binder consolidating various files, resources and guides to both prepare future caregivers, as well as serve as an “instruction manual” when transitioning care. The items below should be the foundation of the binder.
Full Financial Plan
The financial plan, preferably prepared with the help of a professional specializing in the support of families with special needs, should be a comprehensive plan addressing a range of issues. This plan of course should consider the entire family’s needs, not just those with special needs. Issues to address may include but should not be limited to a full insurance needs analysis (to address medical coverage, life insurance, disability insurance and long term care), an education funding plan, a family budget and establishment of emergency funds, an asset allocation review, comprehensive retirement planning and most importantly an estate plan considering the unique needs of an individual with special needs.
Copies of all will and trust documents, most importantly a copy of the special needs trust, are vital components. Be sure to keep the binder current with any amendments or changes to the documents over time.
Once a child turns age 18, and if appropriate guardianship is addressed in some way, a copy of all filings and court correspondence should be enclosed. If guardianship or limited guardianship is obtained, keep a copy of both the petition and granting of guardianship. If a power of attorney is instead suitable, maintain a copy of the signed document.
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