Smart Living: Financial Planning For Special Needs Kids

Caring for special needs children after the death of their parents is a concern for many parents. Financial planners tell parents to fund a retirement account for three.

One estimate puts the cost of caring for a person with autism their entire life at more than $2 million.

The parents of 24-year-old Austin Lewis hope that he continues to live a happy and long life. For years, they worried about what will happen to him when they're gone.

"Every parent wants to live one day longer than their child with special needs," said Austin's mother Kay.

"Parents can't imagine their child with a special need, without them," said Mary Anne Ehlert.

Ehlert works for a group that helps families prepare for the inevitable.

"What do they want for their child, and what are they spending today," said Ehlert.

She said costs for care, housing and food vary based on disability level, but the yearly average is around $65,000.

She recommends parents look at financial planning for a special needs child as a retirement plan for three.

She recommends parents invest in a life insurance policy, but do it early. If you get sick, you might become uninsurable.

Make a will, but don't leave money to your child. In most states, if they have more than $2,000 to their name, they're disqualified from federal and state programs.

"Leave that money for the child in a special needs trust," said Ehlert.

Mary Anne said that, if possible, set up a co-trustee between a family member and a trust company.

"A family member has the heart. The trust company has the expertise," said Ehlert.

If friends and family want to give your special needs child a savings bond as a gift, make sure they're in the parents' names. Otherwise, it could put the child over the $2,000 limit and make them ineligible for government disability benefits.

About the Author...
Melanie Bloom
In her spare time, you can find Melanie spending time with her husband and their two children, Bryce and Gillian.
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