What Constitutes a Special Need?

Special needs is the broad category of requirements and care for individuals suffering from a wide range of physical disabilities, medical conditions, intellectual difficulties, or emotional problems, including physical conditions, learning difficulties, and behavioral problems.

What help will the government give us to help financially with our special needs child?

The federal and state governments have numerous benefits that are available to individuals with special needs. These programs vary from state to state, but many also have some type of Medicaid waiver that will cover residential, daycare, career, and other basic services.

Some of these major programs include: (i) Medicaid, which gives basic medical care; (ii) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which provide allowances for food and shelter to people with disabilities; and (iii) Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which helps those with a disability, but requires that the individual hasn’t been able to work for at least a year because of the disability.

There’s a lot to keep straight. How do we stay organized?

If you have a child with special needs, it’s critical that you maintain all of your documentation in one safe place that you can access easily when needed.

Experts suggest that parents of children with special needs should have a file or lockbox to keep the information that future caregivers will need to care for the child after the parents have passed away.

Make sure that you regularly update the information in the file when there are changes in your family’s situation, changes in the needs or desires of your child, and to detail any other issues that may help future caregivers in caring for your child.

So what exactly should be in my file?

Of course, there is no exact list, but you should include the following types of documents and maintain your file with any changes.

Important Legal Documents

Important legal documents, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, medical records, prescriptions, and health insurance cards.

Letter of Intent

A Letter of Intent is a non-binding document that gives vital information about the child with special needs to his or her future caregivers. This can be details like your child’s sleeping preferences, eating habits and favorite foods, activities and hobbies, and other aspects of his or her routine.

Final Wishes

Directions as to your wishes for final arrangements, e.g., burial services, final resting place, or other details you want carried out.

Health Care & Financial Directives

Avoid head and heartaches by including an advance health care and financial directives such as powers of attorney, living wills, and health care proxies.

Trust Documents

Copies of special needs, living, or insurance trusts that may be in effect. (The signed copies or originals may be required to complete property transfers, so also include details about the location of the originals).

List of Major Assets

A list of major assets and information about where they are located, such as insurance policies, investments, bank accounts with policy and account numbers and contact info for brokers, insurance agents, and investment advisors.

Guardianship Documents

If you have had them created, include the guardianship documents.

Agency Contact Information

The contact information for government agencies or case workers with whom you have worked.

Government Benefits

A list of government benefits your child may receive, as well as copies of completed applications.

Other

Any other documentation that would assist future caregivers, like tax returns for your child, information about housing, educational programs, and family photographs and small mementos.

Take the Next Step

That’s a lot to cover. Why not let an expert help you? A special needs attorney has the background to make your lives a little easier. Make an appointment to visit with an attorney at Estate Planning and Legacy Law Center, PLC today.