No Greater Love
Jesus said, "There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
If you are the parent of a special needs child that statement has YOU all over it.
Every parent agonizes over the health and well-being of their children. The smallest scratch, or illness, is a matter of prayer and attention for us. We know, however, that one day our precious child will grow to be self-sufficient, and our role will change.
The parent of a special needs child may have no such expectations. It may be that care will need to be provided for a lifetime, and maybe even beyond the lifetime of the parent.
Is that legally and financially possible? Yes!
There are a number of things to consider when it comes to planning your financial world around the special needs child. Here are some guidelines on what to focus on:
* Make an accurate assessment of your financial situation.
The importance of having a viable financial plan can't be over-emphasized. You need to know how you stand financially today, and have a well-crafted plan for the future. Once the plan is in place it should be monitored, adjusted as necessary, and legally protected through the use of trusts and insurance.
* Protect your family legally.
Use an experienced special-needs attorney. They can help you craft all the legal documents you'll need, and set up a special-needs trust. This is a vehicle that will allow you to leave an inheritance to your child without jeopardizing any government benefits they may be receiving. Don't go cheap on your attorney here. He or she can also help you understand guardianship options.
* Take advantage of government programs.
A number of state and federal benefits may be available to you, as well as tax breaks. Adult services and Social Security may also need to be involved with your situation. A competent financial planner can assist with these things also.
* Try to bring the whole family onboard.
One of the great blessings of having a strong family is in a situation like this. Siblings can play a significant role in smoothing things out, especially after you're gone. It's important to have conversations along the way with your children. How they respond today can ease your mind greatly about the future. One good idea is to craft a document that spells out everything a future caregiver may need to know, such as your intentions, where relevant documents are, contact information for advisors, etc. Your job is to make it as easy as possible for someone else to step into the caregiver role.
You Are Blessed!
Caring for one of these wonderful children can show you more beauty in this life than you ever thought you'd see. The financial and emotional challenges are real, however. I used to think that God had a very special blessing for the parents of these children.
They would tell you that their blessing was the child. After knowing some of them personally, I'd have to agree.
Until next time,
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