Tips for Developing a Comprehensive Financial Plan for Families with Special Needs Members

  1. Do not wait until later in life before initiating a well-designed plan. Not planning for someone who is dependent upon you is irresponsible and can have distressing results.
  2. Find a professional financial planner who has the expertise in special needs planning area. Often times they may be an expert in one area or discipline within the planning process but not adept at providing a comprehensive approach to financial planning.
  3. Prepare a Letter of Intent which will be a guide for the care of your loved one with special needs. When you pass away, this non-legal document may be the most beneficial thing you leave behind for your family member with special needs.
  4. Surround your family with advocates and fiduciaries. Working with others who will put your family’s interests first, who do not sell products or have other agendas, will greatly improve the success of all your planning initiatives.
  5. Use Supplemental Needs Trusts and understand the estate planning trade-offs, which better support your special needs family member. Again, this is a specialty area and not all attorneys fully understand the issues. Quality estate planning documents drafted by an expert in the area of special needs law are critical.
  6. Carefully choose the guardian and trustee for your special needs family member. Understand the skills needed for each role and do not assume that the closest relative is the best choice.
  7. Review beneficiary designations and account titles with your special needs attorney. Titles and beneficiary designations control how assets will pass at death; proper naming can ensure no disruption in governmental benefits or support for the special needs individual.
  8. Coordinate the family planning with the special needs child. Make sure your extended family knows your plans and does not jeopardize the governmental benefits due to a lack of understanding.
  9. Take advantage of all income tax breaks. Work with an accountant familiar with Supplemental Needs Trusts and disability related deductions.
  10. Seek support groups and other families facing similar challenges in your community. Shared information and support can be helpful.
  11. Plan for transitioning into adulthood. There are many challenges that will need to be overcome in terms of housing, employment, and social support. It may take time finding the best solution, so start planning early.

These recommendations are provided solely as a reference and are not intended to replace counseling from qualified professionals. Please contact Baron Financial Group, if you would like more information about our Advisors, and our services for families with special needs members.