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With an estimated 21 million families in the U.S. having at least one family member with a disability, your family is not alone. Also common with such families is the need for special needs planning. Have you planned for the future of your loved one with special needs? Perhaps your loved one’s needs are currently being taken care of in terms of finances, health and quality of life—but what about when you pass on? Although such topics force us to consider our own mortality, it is in the best interest of your loved one to think about things such as a letter of intent and special needs trust.

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If you are the parent of a child with special needs, you already know that a meeting is required at least once a year with school officials to discuss your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Education is one of the most important things in a child’s life, so it pays to be prepared. What specifically should parents do to prepare? -Familiarize yourself with the parents’ rights handbook that is provided …

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Filling the Empty Nest

With many recent high school graduates preparing to go off to college, parents may begin to grow concerned about their children’s ability to take responsibility and go out on their own. Although most graduates are legal adults when they leave the house, many of them are not ready to take on the responsibilities that come with being an adult. Many students entering college will still rely on their parents for financial and emotional support and will continue to use their parents’ health care insurance for their medical needs.

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Harriet P. Schleifer, Esq., of Littman Krooks LLP will speak on financial planning for a child with special needs and preparing for life after high school at the 2nd Annual Northeast Regional Epilepsy Group (NEREG) Conference on Epilepsy on October 2. The event is free of charge and will be held at Sheraton Crossroads in Mahwah, New Jersey. The Northeast Regional Epilepsy Group offers unique services and comprehensive care to both children and adults with any type of epilepsy. In order to register for the conference, call (201) 343-6676.

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While financial and estate planning are important for every family, it is even more important for families who have children with special needs. It is important to prepare for your child’s financial future to help ensure a safe, secure, and independent life ahead. To prepare properly, you should take the following steps…

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If you have a child with special needs, you should talk to extended family members who may be intending to make a gift or bequest. Extended family members may have your child’s best interests at heart, but they may be unaware that the money they leave to your child could jeopardize eligibility for government benefits.

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While it’s important for the parents of a child with special needs to provide for the child’s financial well-being in their estate plan, it’s equally important to address the issue of transitioning to life with a new caregiver. That’s the purpose of a letter of intent, which is intended to assist future caregivers by describing aspects of your child’s life that no one else may be aware of. This information …

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When considering how much money you will need to fund a special needs trust, you may wish to consider items that will offer your child a better quality of life. Government benefits are designed to provide basic food and shelter, but they will not offer your child any of the extras he is used to. When determining how much money you will need to provide for these extras, you should …

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A child with special needs deserves a parent’s continued stewardship and guidance, even if the parent becomes incapacitated or passes away, and the following estate planning documents are key to ensuring the child’s security. (1) A last will and testament. (2) A general durable power of attorney (“GDPA”). This document designates an agent to act on an individual’s (here, a parent’s) behalf with regard to financial affairs. Parents’ GDPA should …

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