Take five steps to plan for the future of your child with special needs
For a family with a child with special needs, planning is a necessity. Unfortunately, the majority of these families don't have a plan in place for the future financial support and care of their dependent with special needs.
According to a recent Exceptional Parent online survey commissioned by Northwestern Mutual, one out of three parents with a child with special needs surveyed have not begun planning at all. These parents cite being "unsure of what steps to take" as the biggest challenge they face when preparing for the future of their children.
By breaking down the basic steps necessary to implement a plan, this process doesn't have to be overwhelming, and taking action will positively impact your child's future in significant ways.
Here are the five steps involved in developing an effective financial roadmap for your child with special needs:
1. Set Goals
It's important to develop a clear vision of how you want your child with special needs to live. Consider a future assuming both parents are no longer around. Questions you should have clear answers to include:
- What kind of life would you like your child to have?
- How will your child live without you?
- What other financial goals, such as retirement and education funding, are important to your family?
2. Assess Your Current Situation
Determining the cost of providing the desired quality of life for the entire lifetime of a child with special needs is challenging. Special considerations include:
- The possibility that government programs or funding your child with special needs relies on today may be reduced or eliminated in the future.
- What the cost will be to continue the current services provided by the educational system once your child is no longer in school.
3. Develop a Plan
One of the most challenging aspects of planning is thinking about the possibility of dying before your child with special needs and entrusting his or her lifelong care and well-being to someone else. To ensure your wishes are carried out if you do die, make sure you:
- Create a will.
- Appoint a guardian.
- Write a letter of intent to future caregivers.
4. Implement the Plan
With so much at stake, it's important to make sure you properly implement your plan. Contact a Northwestern Mutual representative to provide you with specific risk protection and investment solutions, as well as your attorney to ensure you have the necessary documents drafted with the appropriate wording.
5. Keep Your Plan Up to Date.
Once your plan is established, you'll need to continually monitor and possibly amend it in response to changes in your life or the law. Taking this step will help ensure that your future goals will be met.
Don't let the added responsibilities of having a child with special needs get in the way of adequately planning for the future care and financial well-being of your family.