Special Needs

As a parent myself, I understand the challenges parents face on a daily basis with children with special needs.  Two of my four children have unique challenges. Often parents are so challenged with the daily intense needs of our children we cannot even begin to think of the long term and the inevitability of the day we can no longer provide the care for our vulnerable kids.

One of my designations is the Chartered Special Needs Consultant. I decided to attain this designation to learn as much as possible about the legal and tax implications of planning for special needs families and individuals. 

Often we hear bits and pieces in the special needs community of the planning necessary. The biggest one is “special needs trust”. While legal planning is certainly important and necessary, it often is done “out of order” and therefore does not maximize the planning options for the family.

Having a child or children with special needs impacts the entire family. Planning should reflect the entire family’s needs. Most of our parents want the same things typical families want for their children and themselves. Further education, college, happiness, productive lives, full potential and appropriate independence and of course, retirement.

Accomplishing all of these goals, and determining “how much” to leave behind for your special needs child is a tall order. It is also not something that can be accomplished by one professional. 

The three major parts of planning for the future of a special needs child must be adequately addressed by competent professionals. These three major areas are like the three legs of a stool, without each,  the stool will tip and not be effective. 

The first is the disability resource area. This includes helping to ensure your child is getting the most out of available resources and benefits. It also includes constructing a quality and personalized Letter of Intent. This document is essentially the instruction manual and history of your child to be used by those that follow you in your various roles

Without the second leg of the stool, the financial leg, your best laid plans may not come to fruition. We work with our clients through a holistic process designed to uncover their most heartfelt desires for their family and children. By reviewing work already in place we are able to often identify gaps and unknown costly mistakes. As the stakes can never be as high as dealing with the futures of our vulnerable kids, we work hard to identify and explain strategies to help ensure your goals for your family are met.

The third leg of the stool is the legal piece. Without proper legal documentation that reflects your goals you may put your family at risk and the eligibility for benefits of your special needs child at risk as well.  Many attorneys do only a small number of these plans a year. It is imperative that you work with an attorney that works in this area on a daily basis and is well versed in this area of estate planning. As your advisor we educate you on the different legal plans and trusts available. We can recommend a qualified attorney, and we can accompany you to the legal appointment thereby helping to ensure communication is clear and your financial assets are properly coordinated with your legal documents.

A fully comprehensive and integrated process helps ensure that your family will be protected and your children will have enviable lives. I would be honored to help your family.