Because of my younger sister, Sarah, who has Down syndrome, a main focus of my practice is helping families with special needs develop strategies so that their children or loved ones can live impactful and purposeful lives. I believe that everybody has the ability to be impactful in the lives of others and it is this ability that leads to a strong sense of purpose.
I believe I am unique in my approach to planning and this uniqueness comes from the abilities that I see in my sister and the way she has been able to impact the lives of others.
Planning for individuals with special needs is often misunderstood, even by many professionals. Setting up a special needs trust by a reputable attorney to ensure that assets do not disqualify your loved one from government benefits is important. Developing a strategy of how to fund this special needs trust is also important.
However, if this is where we stop in our planning conversations, we as professionals have missed an important opportunity to truly be impactful to the families that we serve. In my opinion, we have only touched the tip on the iceberg when it comes to what special needs planning should truly should entail.
The purpose of planning for an individual with special needs is to ensure that he/she is able to live a dignified and impactful life. What makes a life meaningful is unique to each and every individual.
There are four areas of consideration that are equally important in developing a comprehensive special needs plan.
–Life Planning: creating a vision for the individual’s future and developing a road map to get there that is unique to his/her abilities and challenges.
–Resource Planning: determining the types of professionals, supports, and services it will take to make the life plan become a reality.
–Financial Planning: creating a unique strategy of how to pay for the resource plan.
–Legal Planning: ensuring that your main intentions in the life, resource, and financial plans are carried out.
The four aspects of special needs planning can seem overwhelming, frustrating, and confusing at times. These feelings can often result in no plan being created. A special needs planning professional will be equipped to ask the right questions to make the planning process easier and more impactful. He/she will be able to guide you through the process and share valuable and needed resources in order to give you peace of mind that you are well planned.
Over the next four weeks, I will go into more detail on each of these four areas of planning and why each is important.