All parents worry about their kids, but when you have a disabled child, the things you worry about are different. Instead of worrying if they’ll get into a good school, or find a great job that gives them financial stability, you have to worry how your child will cope when you’re gone and whether they’ll have the kind of financial security they’ll need to live a happy, safe life.
The good news is that there are lots of things you can do now to help secure your child’s financial future. Here are some of them:
Apply for Benefits
As the parents of a disabled child, you may be entitled to claim various Social Security benefits on their behalf. You should apply for these because, if you’re struggling now, you’re hardly going to be able to take steps to secure your child’s financial future. If you’re turned down for benefits, a good disability lawyer may be able to help you. You should never feel bad about claiming the benefits your child is entitled to and often needs to live the best life they possibly can.
Set Up a Special Needs Trust
A special needs trust is perhaps the most important thing you can put in place for your child’s financial future. You can use your child’s trust to save money from your salary, gifts given to the child and even the proceeds of your estate when you die so that they will not affect their eligibility for benefits like SSI and Medicaid. The more money you pay into this trust, the more secure your child’s future will be long-term too.
Draw Up a Will
Seeing a lawyer who specializes in the drafting of wills and making it clear what you want to happen to your estate when you pass is vital, primarily because you want your estate to be left to your child’s special needs trust so that it can’t interfere with his or her entitlement to federal benefits. If you don’t make this clear, the estate may well default to them and make their financial situation worse!
Name a Guardian
It’s also vital that you name a guardian - a trusted person who will be tasked with caring for your child should you die before he or she reaches adulthood. You should take your time choosing a guardian, ensuring that the person you pick has the time and ability to care for your child and that they can be trusted to do the right by your kid.
Choose a Trustee
You will also need to choose a trustee who can be trusted to take care of your kid’s special needs fund if and when you aren’t around to do that. The trustee should be a professional person who is independent of the family, to ensure that they always act in the child’s best interest.
If you do all of the above, and you work on building up your own savings over the years, some you have a nest egg to leave behind, your child shouldn’t have to go through the distress of financial difficulty now or in the future.