You can’t wait until tomorrow to do these!
Chance are, I’ve stood in your shoes. I know what it’s like to contend with the weight of supporting my special needs family today, while not being sure about what the future holds for us.
I’ve stood in your shoes (or at least shoes similar to yours), because, until my son passed away, we were a special needs family. Since then, I’ve been helping hundreds of individuals like you every year plan for that future that exists beyond us – beyond the point we can care for our children.
If you passed away today, what would happen to your special needs family member tomorrow? It’s a morbid question, I know, but it’s exactly the question I encourage my family members to consider most.
You can’t plan for that unknown tomorrow when you are not here – you have to plan for it today. Right now.
There are five musts that I want every special needs family like yours to understand:
Must #1: Understand Our Situation
As a non-profit, we offer free consultations to special needs families like yours. When you call us, make an appointment, and walk through our doors for the first time, we get to know what is going on with your family. Most experts will only delve out products they believe will help your family in your situation. The sad part is that many families (and those that serve them) don’t understand the fullness of what’s going on. Have you ever had the experience of someone not fully getting you or your family? So, the first must, when working with a professional to plan for those unknown tomorrows, is to have them help us understand your family fully. If your expert does not understand you, run.
Must #2: Understand Your Benefits
When my son was born, I have to admit that I fell victim to my own pride and hubris. I don’t need to think about taking a handout from anyone – I can handle this. At some point, a dear friend said to me, Grady, those are not your benefits: they’re your sons benefits. From that moment, I’ve come to look at the benefits offered to special needs families quite differently. Who can say that they will have their medical needs taken care of for the rest of their lives? Who can say that they will receive a free and clear check each month, just because of who they happen to be? Families must understand not only WHAT these benefits are, but how they should think of them when planning for the future. Are you denying your family member their benefits without even knowing it? Believe me, you could be!
Must #3: Understand the Impact of Traditional Planning vs. Special Needs Planning
Grandparents are amazing. They can be some of the most generous people around. They love our children. Yet few people understand that love like theirs can sometimes backfire. You and your children may not be permitted to have a certain dollar amount available to them at any given time, less they lose their benefits. Imagine having the blessing of an inheritance from a grandparent, only to discover that with that comes a loss of the benefits you fought so hard to establish for your special needs family member? Special needs families must understand AND EXPLAIN TO THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS the cost of being generous in the wrong way; it can cause a world of hurt.
Must #4: Understand the Dynamics of Wills, Trusts, Etc.
Supposed experts out there will be glad to sell you products of various kinds that they believe will help you and your special needs families. However, your special needs family member does not need a product: they need a process. They need someone, like those of us here at the Dignity Group, to create a full constellation of documents, planning, and education, such that the process is in place when you are not there for your loved one. Special needs families must work with those that understand the needs beyond products.
Must #5: Build a Life Care Plan
Finally, special needs families need to understand that, in the end, they are building a life for their special needs family member. Do you want a nice car in the driveway to motivate family members to take your loved one to Disneyland? Do you want your loved one to be in a room-mate situation, where others can share in supporting one another? Do you want to ensure that divorce and other unexpected life events don’t destroy what you’ve worked so hard to build? If so, then only way to do that is to build an entire comprehensive plan for the life of your loved one.
Overall, our hope is that you found this information helpful. If you want to take the first steps in accomplishing these musts for your family, give us a call and make an appointment. We meet with families at no charge.
ImageCopyright 2015 Lightstock, LLC and is licensed by Dignity Group, Inc. and is used with permission. Photo is for illustrative purposes only. Any person depicted in the photo, if any, is a model.