Creating a Financial Game Plan | A Milestone-Based Guide to a Special Needs Plan
Special Needs Plan
The addition of a child with special needs to your family can bring a range of emotions. With time the emotions can settle, but the responsibility of providing for your growing family often takes hold. Creating a financial plan with a trusted advisor is critical, and arriving at various milestones can guide you in what to do next. Below are seven milestones to benchmark your planning efforts with financial advice for every turning point.
1 – At diagnosis:
The first thing to remember at diagnosis is to calm your thoughts and avoid making any sudden financial decisions or significant changes. The changes to your family will likely result in the need for financial adjustment, but they don’t have to happen all at once.
Start by working to educate yourself on your child’s diagnosis, building a base of knowledge to later plan for his/her long-term needs. A great way to do this is to find a support system, whether that be a parent support group, diagnosis specific organizations or other community groups.
If there is one financial adjustment that can be made right away, beginning to build cash reserves is an admirable goal, especially if you don’t already have a healthy emergency fund. For most families this is not something that can be done all at once, but recognize that unplanned expenses may come up for the care and support of your child. Having cash available to handle these unplanned expenses may save you from having to make difficult financial decisions later as a result of taking on debt or forced account reallocations.
2 – Consider the Long-Term:
Deciding to address what happens to your child if something happens to you is not easy for many parents, so finding the momentum to draft a will and trust can be challenging. That’s why this guidance isn’t tied to a benchmark, and is instead something we would encourage a family to address as soon as they are emotionally ready.
Once you are prepared to discuss this, engage a qualified attorney that focuses their practice on special needs planning. Work through the drafting of a will to name guardians for your minor children, and talk through a family trust to handle the distribution of your assets. And if you expect that your child may qualify for SSI or other supports, consider a special needs trust to help preserve eligibility. Once the trust work is in order your job is not complete until you have adjusted all of the beneficiary designations to reflect this work.
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