The birth of a child is one of the most exciting times in life. The moment you lay eyes on your precious baby, you want to provide, protect and give him or her the best life you can. And when your child has special needs, this desire doesn’t change — it just requires a more strategic approach with additional challenges. To help you along the way, here are important planning steps to consider from the birth of your child up to age three.

Early Intervention

It’s never too early to start planning a lifetime of continuous care for your loved one, and the journey starts locally with your county’s Early Intervention services. These services are tailored around developing a personalized plan specific to your loved one’s physical or cognitive skill development.Early Intervention services may also offer guidance about the other services available in your area. All states provide early intervention, but each state does so differently. States also define developmental delay in different ways and provide different services for different health conditions. In some states a doctor or clinician can recommend early intervention. By building your level of understanding about Early Intervention services, you’ll be better prepared to identify your loved one’s needs as well as understand the financial implications of those needs.

Estate planning and special needs trust

Ensuring your loved one’s needs is a priority — even after you’re gone. Because of this priority, it’s important to consider future government programs and benefits in all of your planning efforts. Work to educate yourself on and use the right legal instruments, so you can protect your child’s future and ensure every possibility is open to your loved one.For instance, a special needs trust is one way you can leave your child assets through beneficiary designations without jeopardizing his or her eligibility for government benefits. Proper language in a will or special needs trust can protect eligibility for key means-tested government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid coverage. As you explore potential options, it’s best to work with specially trained financial professionals* for guidance and advice specific to your situation.

Looking into life insurance

Many parents use life insurance policies to help fund the needs of their child in the unfortunate event of their own deaths.  Life insurance immediately creates a death benefit to offer the resources required to continue your child’s quality of life. The amount and type of insurance policy will depend upon the needs of your child and your vision for his or her future.For example, if your vision includes independent living, employment, and transportation, an insurance policy with a larger death benefit may be a more suitable solution. Again, a specially trained financial advisor can provide guidance and help you gain a greater peace of mind.

Other planning considerations from birth through age three

  • Include any other children or family members in your planning and make sure to communicate your plans to them.
  • Start thinking about successor caregiving and the potential need for a legal guardian in the future. At this point, you may not know your child’s full capabilities or whether he or she will need a guardian, but now is the ideal time to start forming a vision for potential caregivers.
  • Avoid opening any savings or investment accounts in your child’s name. It could affect his or her eligibility for Medicaid and SSI later down the road.

It’s never too early to begin planning a lifetime of continuous care for the ones you love. By starting early, you can potentially circumvent common planning pitfalls. And if you need guidance or assistance, our specially trained financial professionals are here to help lead the way.

Neither Voya nor its affiliated companies or representatives provide tax or legal advice. Please consult a tax advisor or attorney before making a tax – related investment/insurance decision.

* Financial Professionals are Investment Advisor Representatives of and offer securities and investment advisory services through Voya Financial Advisors, Inc., (VFA) (member SIPC).