Effective special needs planning should not only address current daily routines and needs of your loved one, but also their future needs. This is best done through financial and/or estate planning.
Continuity of Care for a Trust Beneficiary
If you are the main person managing the care of the beneficiary of a special needs trust, it is vitally important to plan for a time when you may no longer be able to perform this crucial role. (Learn more about the difference between a Care Manager and a Trustee here.)
It is important to plan appropriately so the beneficiary will have an advocate AND someone closely managing care for his or her entire lifetime. It could be devastating for care to be disrupted in the event that a family member is no longer able to provide for, or manage, the care.
Making sure this doesn’t happen requires conversations with other close family members to determine if any of those individuals would be willing and able to step in when the primary caregiver is unable to continue with his or her duties.
It is an unfortunate reality that siblings, or other close relatives, often have their own family responsibilities that prevent them from acting as care manager for their loved one. This can leave the beneficiary seemingly out of options when the primary caregiver passes away or is no longer able to provide care.
When Family Can’t Provide Care
When there is no one in the family available to assume the essential care management role, there are other alternatives to make sure the beneficiary has a care manager. Professional organizations across the country provide care management services and could assume this role for the beneficiary. In order for these organizations to adequately serve the beneficiary’s needs and manage their care, they must receive proper guidance. If you have questions about local organizations who provide these services, please give us a call at 913-345-2323. We’ll be happy to discuss this with you.
A great way to provide such guidance is with a Memorandum of Intent, which can accompany a special needs trust. (Read more about creating a Memorandum of Intent, along with a free download of a template for one, here.)
A Memorandum of Intent lays out the current wants, needs, likes, dislikes, and preferred living situation of the beneficiary and gives future caregivers and care managers — whether family or professionals — crucial direction on caring for a beneficiary. It is important that this information be written down so that future caregivers are not left guessing how best to meet a beneficiary’s needs. This is especially important in situations where the beneficiary is unable to communicate for themselves.
Trustees of special needs trusts should work with the beneficiary’s caregiver and care manager to make sure that not only are the beneficiary’s needs currently being met, but that the proper steps are taken to ensure that those needs will be met in the future.
To continue learning more about special needs planning, check out our free Guide to Special Needs Planning. We created this resource to help families get a basic handle on how planning can improve the life of their loved one. You can also learn more by exploring our Special Needs blog here. If you have any questions about Special Needs planning, please give us a call at 913-345-2323. We’ll be glad to discuss this with you.