A parent with a special needs child might be concerned about what will happen after their child reaches adulthood. You might be wondering how you can best set up your child for success once they become independent. In order to achieve this, you’ll need to understand some key elements to your child’s finances, such as: setting up a trust, where to send assets, accepting donations, choosing a beneficiary, and more. In addition, we have compiled a detailed list of resources that will help you prepare for your child’s future.
Table of Contents
Mistakes to Avoid: What Parents of Special Needs Children Need to Know
Setting Up a Trust
In many situations it’s a good idea to put your child’s assets in someone else’s name. The main reason that money might need to be in someone else’s name is the fact that the government will see assets controlled by your child, and will count them account as income. If they have steady income from an account, even if it’s not enough to cover all of their needs, the state or federal law may mandate that your child is not eligible for government benefits.
Of course, this type of supplemental income is crucial for most special needs individuals. In order to protect their benefits, you can set up a special needs trust fund that explicitly exists in order to supplement your child’s needs as an adult. However, you will need to choose someone else to be assigned as the beneficiary in order to guarantee that your child will keep all of their benefits.
Assigning Assets to Your Child
In addition, if you have any of your own personal savings or other assets that you’d like to put toward your child’s future, it’s important that you continue to use the trust fund as a way to ensure they receive the supplementary income that they need. In most cases, it’s better to assign your assets to a beneficiary that is going to be the owner of the special needs trust, instead of labeling the trust as the destination outright.
The reason for this is that if your will says that you’d like the money to go to your child’s trust fund, the beneficiary assigned to your assets will legally be the person who holds all the rights to your money, even if your will says you want it to go somewhere else. This means, if your child is listed as your beneficiary and not the person in charge of the trust fund, their overall income will be affected and they may lose access to benefits. What’s more, if you have family members, guardians, friends etc. that would like to assign your child as a beneficiary to an inheritance, they should also think about assigning those funds to the person in control of the trust.
Be Wary of Accepting Direct Donations
If you and the child have friends and family that are willing to financially assist the child, it’s better that your child doesn’t receive direct gifts of money. Accepting a large sum of money, even as a gift, can jeopardize your child’s ability to receive benefits from the government that they are entitled to. Gifts of money will also alter your/your child’s income status, which can cut your child off from receiving those necessary benefits. So, instead, if someone wants to contribute to your child’s future, ask them to donate to the special needs fund.
Picking a Beneficiary
This is a tough decision for many parents of special needs children. There may be someone in your family or a friend that is very financially savvy and would be able to adequately handle disbursements and other legalities have to do with your child’s special needs trust fund. However, assigning a beneficiary is much more than the financial side of things. You want someone that understands special needs and is aware of the level of care that your child is going to need. While being financially acute is important, you really need someone who has all of your child’s best interests at heart and is going to carry out your wishes for your child’s future.
In many cases, families are able to find someone within their support group that understands all aspects of caring for a special needs child, but unfortunately not every family has such an individual. Luckily, in cases like these, there are agencies which contain experts in caring for an individual with special needs. Someone with years of experience in special needs care might be the best option for guaranteeing that your child gets the level of care they deserve for the entirety of their adult life.
Resources for Raising Children With Special Needs and Disabilities
In this section we are going to focus on third-party resources that can assist you with many different facets of raising a special needs child. Some of these resources may be region specific, or depend on what state you live in (according to your state’s rules and regulations), which others are universal for anyone living in the US. All of these organizations are fantastic resources for families that need a little bit of advice or support in their special needs journey.
Federal Organizations and Programs to Know
States have different departments with different names, often dedicated in part or in whole to supporting disabled/special needs children and families. As such, it’s important that you conduct some state specific research to see what kinds of programs and benefits that you and your child are entitled to. Listed below are some common government programs that families with special needs children often benefit from.
- Government Disability Assistance – This resource lists many separate programs available to individuals in certain states. It also has resources for particular special needs programs.
- Supplemental Security Income
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- Medicaid – Children’s Health Insurance Program
Maternity and Early Childhood Resources
The resources covered here include everything from learning a disability diagnosis through high school graduation help. There are several programs listed here that offer advice for parents that want to get a head start on giving their child the skills necessary to be successful in school. In addition, there is information regarding education practices that have been extensively proven to work for children with special needs.
- Unborn Child Disability Diagnosis
- Early Intervention for Children With Special Needs (age birth to 5)
- Division for Early Childhood (age birth to 8)
- The US Department of Education
- What Works Clearinghouse
- Office of Special Education Programs
Professional Financial Advice and Planning Resources
These resources walk you through how to start financially planning your child’s future. They include everything you need to know from the birth of your child all the way through their adulthood. Using these resources will help you to start financially planning early so that you can do you best to be prepared for any financial hurdles you may face.
Legal Advice and Planning Resources
The groups listed here are experts in special needs legal matters. They explain what kinds of situations you might need legal assistance for your special needs child and what to do about it. There are many recommendations of who to seek help from if you find yourself in need of legal attention.
- Special Needs Alliance (They also do financial planning)
- Special Education Lawyers Advice
- Legal Matters to Consider
- Legal Planning
Support Groups and Organizations to Know
Here we have wonderful additional resources for anyone with special needs family members and/or children. These organizations can help in various ways (including all of the specific sections listed above). These groups are not specifically targeted at one particular form of assistance, but rather offer a broad range of help for special needs families.
- Federation for Children With Special Needs
- Parents Helping Parents
- The Arc
- Special Olympics
- Family Voices
Planning your child’s financial future is no easy task. That is why it’s so important to use all the resources at your disposal, like the ones listed above. Fortunately, there are countless support groups and assistance programs out there that are willing to give you and your child the attention that you deserve. If you can start planning now for your child’s financial wellbeing later in life, you’ll be able to save yourself a lot of stress and offer yourself and your child peace of mind that they will be financially protected at all times.
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