Special Needs Parenting: Planning for Retirement

Special Needs Parenting: Planning for Retirement

An estimated 58 percent of Americans die without a will.  Life expectancy for individuals with special needs has increased significantly; for example, adults with Down syndrome now live to about 60, an increase from age 25 in 1983.  With statistics like these, it’s becoming even more important for parents of special needs children to prepare for retirement and the future.

Many parents of special needs children in the past have been concerned about what they need for retirement -- and they should be.  But now that some special needs children are outliving their parents, these parents need to consider some financial planning to ensure their child is cared for when they are no longer able to do so.

Financial planners recommend having the following documents in place when planning to retire:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Durable power of attorney for health affairs and financial affairs
  • Letter of intent
  • Guardianship plans
  • Special needs trust 

The will and power of attorney are things all parents should have, not just those with children with special needs.  The latter documents on the list are ones most pertinent for special needs parents.

The letter of intent includes all pertinent information about a child with special needs.  It might include doctor’s and therapist’s information, their favorite foods, allergies, or numerous other bits of information needed for the care of your special needs child.  This letter basically spells out everything a new caretaker would need to know to transition the child as seamlessly as possible.  This document might change as your child gets older, so keep it up to date to have the most accurate information possible. 

Guardianship refers to a legal proceeding in which the court appoints someone to make health and financial decisions for a person with special needs.  While some children with special needs can make decisions about some things, they might need help in other areas.  Their guardian, which can be temporary or permanent, has the power to make some decisions for the child when necessary.  Guardianship plans, as with the letter of intent, should also be kept updated as situations change.

Another very important step to securing your special needs child’s future is to set up a special needs trust.  This trust fund ensures your child will be financially secure without affecting their ability to get public or government assistance.

Financial planners, lawyers, and trust advisors can help you set up a special needs trust fund and the other important documents for securing your child’s future.  Making your special needs child a part of your retirement plan is essential for preparing for the future.

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Written by: Candice Evans See other articles by Candice Evans
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