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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Swan

We Need to Talk about Special Needs Planning

We love to get silly on this blog, joking about estate plans on TV and trying to make you laugh.

But we’ve got to get serious about special needs planning.

Not enough families have made plans for their loved ones with special needs, period. They’re often caught up in day-to-day care and it’s easy for planning to get put on the back burner.

A MetLife study conducted in 2005 and updated in 2011 called “Torn Security Blanket: Children with Special Needs and the Planning Gap” exposed some disheartening truths:

In 2011, only 49% of parents with a special needs child had identified a guardian for their child.

What it means: Identifying a guardian is the first step in a process to protecting your family. Even if you have identified a guardian, it’s important to make sure you have special short-term guardianship documents that can keep your child out of social services at all times. The nominated guardian needs to have access to your child’s medical records, as well. With so much to understand, you need a trustworthy attorney on your team who can make this process as comprehensive as possible.

84% of parents who have children with special needs have not written a letter of intent outlining future care for their child.

What it means: it’s great to have a will, but one line in a will nominating a guardian for a child doesn’t begin to cover what it means to parent a child. It’s important to have values and other intentions recorded so a future guardian can make the right decisions. A full estate plan is necessary–especially for parents whose children require special care.

88% of parents who have children with special needs have not set up a trust to preserve eligibility of benefits such as Medicaid or Social Security.

What it means: If something happens to a parent with a special needs child and they don’t have a trust, their inheritance will likely make the child unable to qualify for Medicaid, Social Security, and other government programs. In other words, the benefits they rely on to live. If you’ve worked hard to save money for your child, make it go as far as possible with a trust.

72% have not named a trustee to handle the child’s finances, and 56% say they are unfamiliar with the steps needed to identify a trustee to watch over their dependent’s financial holdings in the future.

Naming someone you trust to handle your child’s finances is an important decision. We have the tools to help you choose the right person or financial institution to do this for you. If you’re among the 53% who are unfamiliar with the steps to identify a trustee, you have come to the right place: we can walk you through the process, and we make it easy!

These statistics go on and on. We’re moving in the right direction, but LOTS of families who have loved ones with special needs need a comprehensive plan. That’s exactly what we do.

If you love someone with special needs and you want to learn how to best protect them, contact us at or at 970-879-1572.

And if you love a family that you know needs to plan, get in touch with Jamie for more resources about how to approach the topic:

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