Upon learning that your loved one has been diagnosed with a disability, there are many immediate concerns including obtaining a wealth of knowledge and deciphering through the maze of medical care options. The trials of daily living and immediate needs understandably consume so much time and energy it is difficult to find the time and resources to focus on how to effectively plan for your loved one’s future. While it is overwhelming to consider what your child’s needs will be and how those needs will be met over time, it is necessary to plan particularly if you are not here to provide for him or her.
A helpful tool is to keep a running spreadsheet of monthly/yearly expenses so that you can keep track and determine what his or her needs and costs will be over a period of time. This will provide a baseline for analysis. After creating the baseline, you may want to contact local organizations which focus on your child’s disability. They likely have resources to assist in planning for long term care and will have similar families which can provide some insight from their own experiences.
As your child enters adulthood, you should consider planning options which will provide them some protection.
- Conservatorship – Remember, that when your child turns 18, you no longer have any legal right to make decisions for him or her. You will have no legal control over his or her affairs, potentially leaving them susceptible. If you want to provide your son or daughter assistance and protection, you can petition the court to become their Conservator.
- Estate Planning – If your child is receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or is receiving Medi-Cal, you want to consider establishing a special needs trust for his or her benefit. Even if they are not receiving benefits now but there is potential that they will receive benefits in the future, you should establish special needs provisions in your estate plan. If you do not plan accordingly and your child receives an inheritance, they likely will no longer receive government benefits.
Establishing a special needs trust will help ensure that your child will continue to receive their government benefits while also receiving supplemental funds from your estate.
Please contact us should you want to discuss how to plan for your loved one with special needs.