How to Financially Prepare For a Baby With Disabilities
You’ve recently found out you’re having a baby and you couldn’t be more thrilled. Now, the planning begins. Between painting the nursery and buying all those cute clothes, there’s also the financial side of things to plan for. And this becomes especially important if that battery of tests on the baby in utero reveal that something isn’t quite right and that you’re welcoming a child with disabilities.
Ask any parent of a child with disabilities, and they’ll tell you that the experience is incredibly difficult, but that they wouldn’t trade it for the world. As you prepare to welcome your new baby, setting yourself up financially is one of the best things you can do to handle the challenging times that will invariably come your way.
Here’s what you need to know about preparing financially to care for a special needs child.
Call in the Troops
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and this is especially true for a special needs child. No matter who you are or where you live, you’re going to need the support of your community to navigate the process. With this in mind, start by informing the people closest to you about what’s going on. More likely than not, you’ll find that people want to rally to your side, offering assistance, advice, or just a friendly presence at doctor’s appointments, support groups, and more.
If you haven’t already, you might also consider joining a support group for the parents of special needs children. This will be an excellent platform for insight and advice, especially when it comes to navigating things like medical bills and doctors.
Getting Your Financial House in Order
Here are some tips for preparing financially for your new arrival:
1. Assemble Your Team
Raising a special needs child requires a team of experts, and it’s wise to start assembling them as soon as possible after you find out what you’re facing. Here are a few people to reach out to now:
- A financial planner. A financial planner will be able to help you take a close look at your finances and plan for the expenses associated with your little one’s care.
- An attorney. While lots of parents-to-be balk at the idea of speaking to an attorney, a good lawyer can do things like help you establish a special-needs trust and arrange your will so that your child is always taken care of, no matter what.
- Your child’s care provider. The doctor that will treat your child will be an excellent resource when it comes to finding financial programs, grants, scholarships, and other relief programs. Reach out as soon as possible to get a head start on these programs, as many have long waiting lists.
2. Get Health Insurance
If you don’t already have a comprehensive health insurance plan, now is the time to get one. Look for one that covers you and your unborn child, and offers benefits for the care providers he or she will eventually need.
If you’re not sure what you need in the way of health insurance, talk to an expert who can guide you through the various plans. This is a critical time to invest in excellent health insurance coverage, and you can’t afford to skimp.
3. Establish Legal Guardianship
Once your child reaches the age of 18, he or she will be considered an adult. This overlooks the fact that many special needs and disabled children still requirer legal guardianship and assistance at this point.
To route around this issue, establish legal guardianship as soon as possible. The legal guardian you set for your child will be equipped to make financial decisions on behalf of the child, make healthcare decisions, and more. Generally, parents are the legal guardian of a child, although you can name someone who will adopt the role if you die.
4. Create a Trust
One thing many parents of special needs children overlook is the creation of a special needs trust for their child. This trust ensures the child is eligible for SSI, which is entirely contingent on the child not possessing $2,000 or more in assets.
If you’ve never established this type of trust before, you’ll want to hire a financial advisor to help you through the process and develop a plan for how and when the trust should be allocated. These trusts can be difficult to establish, and it’s best not to try and do so on your own.
Get Your Financial Life to Provide the Best Possible Care
Financial planning for your disabled child is more than just a smart decision – it’s also a great way to free up resources so you can provide the best possible care for your little one. When you’re not always worried about where the next paycheck or insurance payout will come from, you can be a more present parent, caregiver, and spouse.