Special needs planning checklist
Creating a lifetime of continuous care for a child or loved one with disabilities requires careful consideration and planning. The journey can seem confusing at first glance, but getting started is much easier when you’re organized.
Use the following checklist to guide your efforts in planning and protecting the future of your loved one with special needs.
- Create a comprehensive Life Care Plan to ensure your loved one receives the long-term care they need.
- Create a Letter of Intent or “letter of instruction” to communicate information about your loved one’s needs and vision of the future.
- Remember to update this document periodically as you or your loved one’s needs or vision of the future changes.
- Have a family meeting to ensure all family members and interested parties are informed of, and know where to find, the Life Care Plan and Letter of Intent.
- Identify all financial resources available to create the future you or your loved one envisions, including government benefits, employer benefits, insurance and personal assets.
- Carefully review all medical health plan options and coverages, including eligibility for Medicaid and Medicare as well as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and employer-sponsored plans.
- Explore available resources for managing care, including online tools.
- Review your employee benefits. Take the time to research all of the benefits your employer offers and understand how they can help you manage your responsibilities, as well as how they can supplement your special needs plan.
- Choose a guardian (if needed), a trustee and successors to oversee your care and resources or the care and resources of your loved one, when you’re no longer able to.
- Use wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, living wills/advanced directives and other legal instruments to craft a well-defined estate plan.
- Carefully review all beneficiary designations and titling or ownership to ensure inheritances won't interrupt government benefits.
- Anticipate the following considerations prior to you or your loved one reaching age 18:
- Will you or your loved one need help managing care or financial affairs? If so, consider guardianship or powers of attorney.
- Will you or your loved one have any special social and recreational interests?
- Will you or your loved one work or seek employment?
- Will you or your loved one require any special transportation or housing accommodations, or anything else that’s important for quality of life?
- Consult with a specialist attorney to determine whether a first-party, third-party, or pooled special needs trust is a good fit for you or your loved one.
- Consider an ABLE account as a way to save for and manage disability-related expenses.
- Providing the care and support you or your loved one with disabilities or special needs is a lifelong commitment, which is why having a documented financial strategy makes sense. A specially trained professional can help you navigate the journey and confidently check all of the necessary boxes, so you can rest easier knowing yours and your loved one’s future is more secure.
- Contact a specially trained financial professional today to learn more about bringing your vision of the future to life.