Ensuring A Future For Your Special Needs Child
Every parent dreams of having their children grow up to be successful, happy, and fulfilled. But what if a child can’t grow up to be a fully independent adult, and ensuring that success, happiness, and fulfillment is totally up to the parents?
Planning for the future of a special needs child is something no parent wants to be faced with, but planning ahead for the day when their care needs must be transferred to someone else is a critically important task. There is no simple solution or one right answer for accomplishing this daunting task. Knowing where to start is often the most difficult part, but here are a few tips to help guide you down the path that is right for you and your child.
Trust Your Instincts
As a parent, no one knows your child better than you do. Don’t let anyone sell you on a one-size-fits-all solution based on your child’s diagnosis. If the child is old enough and able to provide input into their future, asking for their input is the best way to ensure their long-term happiness. Before making a decision, make sure they know what options are available and they fully understand that you won’t be there with them.
Explore The Options
While skilled nursing facilities have been around a long time, they definitely aren’t the only option available to your child. Other types of living arrangements include finding another relative for them to live with, or a variety of supportive or independent living options. Depending on the level of care your child will need as an adult, they may be able to fully integrate into the community in a home of their own. However, unless they will be living independently before you reach the point where you can no longer care for them, they may find that a supportive living arrangement is more comfortable.
Finding information, and legal support can be challenging. Things like guardianship, trusts and other financial matters, power of attorney, wills, and the like need to be taken care of by lawyers and financial planners who specialize in planning for special needs clients. While it is important for anyone to update these types of documents regularly, it is especially important to review and evaluate them regularly when the long-term care and well-being of another person is involved.
Look to Insurance
You should also give careful consideration to your child’s financial well-being if you should unexpectedly pass and not be there to care for them. One thing you shouldn’t be without is life insurance. A life insurance policy can provide a cash payout which can help make up for lost income. If you’re not able to purchase life insurance, you should at least consider burial insurance. Burial insurance will cover final arrangements, but any leftover funds can also be used to pay off medical and credit card bills and loans.
If your child has lived with you their entire life through whatever point in adulthood you are no longer their primary caregiver, the transition to life without you won’t be easy. While we most often think of dogs when considering service animals, companion pets can come in many forms. Consider options that will allow them to keep their pet, and possibly get another one (since animals generally have a much shorter lifespan than people) once they are separated from you.
Regardless of how old your child is at this point, or where you are in terms of planning, the most important thing to remember is that planning for their future is an ongoing process. As long as you start early, educate yourself, and stay diligent, you will have many opportunities to revise and refine the plan to ensure it adequately meets all their needs when you are no longer able to care for them.
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