Nuts and Bolts of Special-Needs Planning

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

This article is excerpted from Minoti’s book, Beyond a Parent’s Love, which is available from Amazon using the link on this page.

It can take many years for parents to start thinking about future planning for their child with a disability. The initial years are struggles between diagnoses, prognoses, treatments, education, finances, denial, confusion, and finally acceptance of the reality of a special-needs child. Usually when the child enters the teen years or approaches high school, parents begin to worry about the financial planning process and future strategies.

Planning for family members with special needs can be overwhelming, especially when many decisions must be made that have lifelong consequences. The best way to proceed is with a team of professionals specialized and experienced in planning for those with special needs. Planning is best done in phases depending upon the age of the special-needs child and the parents.

Professionals can include a financial planner, estate planning attorney with elder-law and special-needs background, an accountant familiar with tax filing of a special needs trust, social workers, housing specialists, and advocacy specialists. Some professionals may not be needed until the parents begin transitioning their child into independent living and planning for their own retirement.

This article describes the planning components necessary for special-needs planning. Providing lifelong care for a child with a disability is a partnership between parents’ own planning and government programs available for those with special needs. Parents’ planning entails both legal and financial considerations. Each segment of the planning process requires thorough understanding of the law, government benefits, the disability of the child, and the financial planning necessary for the parents and other members of the family. I provide basic information only. Readers, including professionals seeking more in-depth information on special-needs planning, may refer to a suggested reading at the end of this article.