Financial planners play a frequently unrecognized but essential role in ensuring that individuals with special needs receive the care and support they need and deserve after their parents or caregivers are gone. Working behind the scenes, these advisors are the unsung heroes to millions of families.
Helping to improve the lives and care of individuals with special needs is one of the most rewarding practice areas within the financial planning sector. The key to success, however, lies in recognizing the unique financial needs of a special needs condition and working as part of a team to create strategies that will keep pace with the family’s development over time.
From doctor’s visits to day care, everyday routines that most families take for granted present hurdles to the parents of children with special needs. While awareness about the cause of families with special needs has recently gained visibility, the unique challenges confronting this segment of society are nothing new.
From basic logistical needs such as transportation, education and routine medical care, to broader considerations such as living arrangements and developmental assistance, the expenses involved in caring for a child with special needs can be overwhelming. One of the most wrenching challenges is ensuring quality long term care for children and adults with special needs after their primary caregivers, usually their parents or siblings, are gone. With the benefit of increasing life expectancy among individuals with disabilities, this issue is taking on greater importance in our society.
What Your Peers Are Reading
A lifetime commitment
Caring for family members with a disability is a commitment that lasts beyond a lifetime. While the day-to-day support structure for these families has improved considerably from just a generation ago, the looming question bearing down on every parent remains the same: What will happen to my child after I am gone?
The parents or guardians of special needs children must plan early for the day when they are no longer able to provide care, and they cannot do it alone. It requires a team effort. Financial planners, life insurance agents and other financial professionals often must initiate the planning process. Attorneys also play a key role in setting up the trusts and estate plans that will assist individuals when their caregivers are gone.
It is critical that planners think beyond the standard models that generally apply to other clients. A savings and retirement plan for these families needs to take into account not just the retirement needs of the parents, but the ongoing cost of care for the family member with the disability now and into the future.
Keys to creating a plan