Many parents of children with special needs ask themselves: Who will care for my child once I am no longer able to? Where will he or she live? Where will financial support come from? Who will advocate for my child? What will happen when he or she reaches adulthood?
These are common questions, which all should be asked in preparation for when parents can no longer care for their child due to advancing age or death. By planning for your child’s future now, you can establish parameters for the level of care needed in the future and prepare your family for their roles and responsibilities in your child’s future.
Begin Planning Early
A small amount of planning now in preparation for a child’s care as an adult can help parents avoid a crisis in the future. To begin special needs planning, parents should consider meeting with an elder law attorney to having the following documents drawn up: a durable financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, a letter of intent, physician’s directive or living will and, if appropriate, a declaration of guardianship. These documents will facilitate the care of your adult special needs child, and will help ensure that he or she will be eligible for public benefits.
When a special needs child becomes a legal adult, the power of choice is transferred from parents or guardians to the special needs adult. In order for important decisions about medical treatments, personal finance and everyday life to be made correctly, parents or loved ones should consider filing for guardianship.
Types of Guardianship
There are two main types of guardianship. Becoming the legal guardian of a person allows you to make important decisions about healthcare, housing, food, clothing and other care needs. You can also be the guardian of property, which gives you the power to make decisions about your loved one’s finances, income, property and public benefits. In many cases, you can receive both types of guardianship depending on how much assistance your loved one needs.
A health care power of attorney is an essential part of your estate plan.
When planning for the future of an elderly family member or child with special needs, you should consider preparing a powers of attorney. Powers of attorney are a simple and inexpensive way to help manage financial and medical accounts if you or your loved one is no longer able to make decisions clearly. For reasons of simplicity and clarity, it is usually better to have separate financial and medical powers of attorney.
Powers of attorney eliminates the worry and stress of managing financial and medical accounts during a time of incapacitation. Powers of attorney are prepared by your attorney and give control over financial and medical accounts to an agent, who is normally a family member or trusted friend. The agent is then granted legal authority to manage the principal’s accounts, usually while he or she is unable to.
The care of your child with special needs is extremely important now, but it is equally important in the future. Deciding how to care for your child with special needs after your death or if you become incapacitated is vital. Here are 5 costly mistakes to take into consideration when deciding how to provide the best care for your child in the future.
Mistake #1: Disinheritance.
Do not rely on government supported care programs like SSI or Medicaid. Although these programs provide some benefits, they provide little more than the essentials to survive. These programs also do not guarantee that your child will be looked after once you are gone or if you become incapacitated. A more trustworthy and viable option is establishing a Special Needs Trust. A trust will provide a strong foundation for your child and guarantees that he or she is cared for. Continue Reading Planning for the Future of a Child with Special Needs Five Mistakes that can Cost you →