10 11 Essential Elements of a Successful Financial Plan For Families With a Member with Special Needs

(Because families with members with special needs have more to do)

  1. Prepare a guide for the care of your loved one with special needs. This non-legal document may be the most valuable thing you leave behind.
  2. Surround your family with advocates and fiduciaries. Working with professionals who will put your family’s interests first will greatly improve your success.
  3. Get registered for all the services and benefits you are entitled to receive. If you live in Illinois, be sure to register your child with special needs on the Prioritization of Urgency of Needs for Services (PUNS) list. PUNS is the IL waiting list for services.
  4. Establish an ABLE Account. These tax-free savings accounts have broader distribution rules than supplemental needs trusts and no annual reporting requirements.
  5. Use Supplemental Needs Trusts rather than disinheriting your special needs family member. Quality estate planning documents drafted by an expert in the area of special needs law are critical.
  6. Develop a list of future caregivers. Choose the guardian or agent under a Power of Attorney, trustee, and future caregiver for your family member with special needs giving consideration to the skills needed for each role.
  7. Review beneficiary designations and account titles. Titles and beneficiary designations control how assets will pass. Proper naming can ensure no disruption in benefits.
  8. Coordinate your planning with your relatives’ planning. Make sure your extended family knows your plans and does not jeopardize government benefits being received.
  9. Assume that housing and employment will be significant challenges and begin planning for them as soon as possible.Transitioning into adulthood is many times more difficult for an individual with special needs.
  10. Create a safety plan that focuses on the challenges your family member with special needs may have in the event of an emergency. Practice your responses to fires, floods, tornadoes, and other potential disasters and alert your local public safety officers (fire, police, and paramedics) to your family member’s challenges.
  11. Seek other families facing similar challenges in your community and nationally. Connect with others who understand your joys and challenges. The support and information you will provide each other is invaluable.
These tips are provided solely as a reference and are not intended to replace counseling from qualified professionals. Please contact Oak Wealth Advisors if you would like more information about our services.