It can be overwhelming to plan for the future when you are caring for a loved one who has special needs. However, taking the time to map out your wishes in the event of your passing is critical in ensuring that your loved one can continue to lead a quality and enriched life, while also having financial security.
Jennifer Barry, CFP®, a Managing Advisor at Connecticut Wealth Management (CTWM), sat down with Colleen Masse, Partner at Czepiga Daly Pope & Perri, to talk about how estate plans and special needs trust can help parents or guardians of a loved one with an intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) plan for the future.
Special needs planning is a topic both Jen and Colleen are passionate about in their personal and professional lives. For Jen, she became an advocate when she was named as the guardian of her friend’s special needs daughter. Fortunately, prior to her passing, that friend had established a plan, something a lot of families neglect to do.
“A lot of the time someone will spend so much time taking care of their child, that they never really have the opportunity to build up resources or a support network,” said Colleen, stressing just how important it is for special needs families to have a documented plan in place.
Establishing a Care Plan
The purpose of an estate plan, also known as a care plan, is to document everything that is important to the health and well-being of your loved one, such as who should make medical decisions, who should or should not be involved in their life, and even how to celebrate their birthday. The more detail, the better off it will serve your loved one when you are gone.
All the information gathered during this process serves as a starting point to building a support network, including a trusted financial advisor, a trustee, and other helpful resources.
Special Needs Trust Basics
A third-party special needs trust, also referred to as a supplemental trust, is set up by someone other than the disabled individual and is funded by the income and assets of others, such as through gifting and/or inheritances. A special needs trust is perhaps one of the most meaningful sources of financial support for individuals with an IDD.
When setting up a trust for an individual with special needs, it is critical to communicate that the trust itself is named as the beneficiary versus the individual. This helps to ensure that access to Social Security, Medicaid and other public benefits are preserved.
Additionally, special needs trust can be used to further enrich the lives of your loved one outside of medical or dental expenses, whether that be a more accessible cell phone, therapeutic horseback riding, a better-quality wheelchair, or trips to Disney.
It truly takes a village when planning for the future of a loved one with special needs and is not something you should feel burdened to go alone. The team at Connecticut Wealth Management can help connect you with the right professionals to plan for your loved one. To talk with one of our financial advisors about special needs planning, please contact Connecticut Wealth Management at 860-470-0290 or by filling out the contact form.