Taking Care of Those Who Can’t Take Care of Themselves
Taking care of an individual with special needs can be a lifelong commitment – and beyond. Recent research shows that technological advances that have resulted in the general population living longer have also resulted in individuals with special needs living much longer. For example, the life expectancy of an individual with Down syndrome has increased from 25 years in 1983 to about 60 years today, an increase of 35 years! Caregivers of these individuals need to worry about who will take care of them after they are gone.
What Steps to Take?
What steps can you take to ensure that your individual with special needs will be cared for once you are gone?
Many of the steps are those same estate planning steps that all caregivers take to protect their loved ones, including:
■ Last will and testament
■ General durable power of attorney for financial affairs
■ Durable power of attorney for health care
But caregivers of individuals with special needs should take the following additional steps:
■ Draft a “letter of intent”
■ Ensure guardianship (upon reaching the age of majority if your individual is not able to manage his or her own affairs) and
■ Provide financial security for a person with special needs by establishing a special needs trust