Now that your child has been diagnosed with autism, it's time to start planning for his future. One of the first things you should do is consider who will be your child's guardian should you pass away. Choose someone who is compassionate, who is financially stable, and who has the emotional maturity needed to care for a child with special needs. It also helps to inquire about any benefits that your child might qualify for such as Social Security disability and Medicaid. You will need to apply for Supplemental Security Income benefits for your child after the diagnosis and you'll need to visit the local Social Security Administration office. Be sure you present medical documentation when meeting with the staff member. Here are additional ways to plan for your child's future after the autism diagnosis.
Create a Will for Your Child
The next important step is to create a detailed will for your child. Speak with an estate planning attorney who specializes in special needs planning if you're not sure where to begin. Include a special needs trust in your will, and you can fund it with stocks, bonds, cash, and anything else that will benefit your child upon reaching adulthood. You will also need to name a trustee over this trust in your will. Your will should not only name a guardian if you pass away, but it needs to state how you want the child to be cared for. After the will is finished, bring it to a notary so that it can be signed in the presence of yourself and a witness.
Save for His Education
If your child desires to attend college one day, then now is the time to save up for those expenses. One way to do this is to take advantage of the ABLE Act. This is a tax-free account that is designed to cover college expenses of special needs children. These include those who have autism, who are visually or hearing impaired, or who have an intellectual disability. The account covers college expenses such as housing, education, assistive technology, and legal fees.
Autism and the Workforce
For the child who will not attend college, you can prepare him for the workforce in diverse ways. Start by teaching him essential life skills that will enable him to work at any job. These skills include:
- Executive functioning skills
- Activities of daily living such as hygiene, cooking, cleaning, money management, etc.
- Job searching and preparation skills such as typing a resume and filling out applications
- Personal safety and street smarts
- Strong gross and fine motor skills
It is also a good idea to have your teenager enter the workforce while he is in high school, so he can get some experience. He can work as a stock clerk, a cashier, or as a fast food worker and earn money for himself before becoming an adult. Find out if there are nonprofit organizations in your area that offer guidance and job training for special needs teens.
Talk To Your Spouse
You and your spouse should be on the same page when planning for your child's future. If there are disagreements, work through them until you reach a healthy compromise. You might feel that it is important that your child have a special needs trust but your spouse believes that he is capable of entering the workforce and living independently without needing a trust. Maybe you can work harder on building your child's life skills and once you see that he is improving, you can abandon the idea of a special needs trust.
In conclusion, these tips will assist you in planning your child's future in an efficient and detailed way. If you need assistance with special needs planning, contact us. We can guide you through the process without all the hassle and confusion.