By Dana Ragiel
“Special Needs” is a broad definition of children that required an extra level of care due to some combination of physical, mental, or emotional conditions. Examples include autism, Down syndrome, paralysis, physical deformity, etc. As we age, we find our special needs children are now special needs adults that continue to require some level of care or support. This support can stress our mental and fiscal limitations at times as caretakers.
Planning for a financial solution to provide care and a level of independence for your adult child as you experience aging, potentially needing care yourself, and for after you pass becomes an important part of your plan. The decisions involve costs and who will provide necessary care.
When I was growing up, children who were born with Down syndrome generally had short life expectancies, usually into their teen years. With current medical technology and research, many Down syndrome children live well into their sixties. While in Chicago talking a tour of Misericordia Heart of Mercy, a home for the intellectually and mentally disabled, I was shown a picture of a little girl with Down syndrome taken in 1950, when she was six years old, sitting on the side of the pool. My guide took me to the therapy pool where I met Margaret, at age 65, who was swimming laps in the pool in 2007. And, she was not the oldest resident of Misericordia!
If you have a special needs child or adult child, realize first you’re not alone. There are resources to help from both the public and private sectors. Internet searches for “special needs child care” or “special needs adult care” with your city name included is a good place to start. Click Here to see one example of many for the Naples, FL area.
As far as your personal plan to have your special needs child cared for when you are unable to do so, starting now is a great idea. Planning early is always better than scrambling at the last minute, or God forbid, not yet having a plan in place when something happens to you. Your financial advisor should help you build the potential costs of care into your financial plan. Your Estate Planning attorney can structure a special needs trust which can be funded and allow for distribution of funds for your child’s care by a trusted appointee, perhaps one of your other children or a fiduciary trustee.
Of course, there is the primary issue beyond finances of who in your family or sphere is equipped to care for your adult children, as well as who do you trust. At best, it’s a worrisome situation for a family of the adult child even when there is a sibling who can step in. But what if there is no family? In this case, you need to be concerned with an appropriate professionally managed facility if your special needs adult child is unable to live on their own.
If you have questions, please call us at 941-778-1900 or click here to complete our contact form.
Dana Ragiel is a Senior Vice President and Wealth Advisor with Integra Capital Advisors Naples Area office. Her experience includes over 35 years of combined wealth management and investment banking & consulting experience. Dana earned her MBA in Finance from the prestigious Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics and Classical Studies from DePauw University.