Ron Lieber in his Your Money column in The New York Times last week offers an excellent introduction to special needs planning. Titled "Assuring Care of a Family Member With Special Needs," the article discusses the financial and estate planning challenges faced by parents of children with special needs.
It advises that parents not forget to plan for themselves as well as their child, quoting one financial planner who "said he sometimes saw parents who had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on therapies for their child and arrived in his office with no retirement savings at the age of 50"
He advises setting up a special needs trust:
One of the first tasks that many proactive families tackle is to set up a special needs trust, which holds assets that can help pay for a disabled person's care and expenses without disqualifying them from certain government benefits that are means-tested.
Lieber also quotes a financial planner and brother of a man with special needs about the need to create a care plan, often called a "memorandum of intent" to guide future caregivers:
"We call it 'Sean's Care Guide,'" Mr. Walther said of the plan for his brother. "It can include foods. Caloric intake. That he likes to watch golf. Is the light on or off at bedtime? Here are their best friends and how to reach them."