I’ve touched on the subject before in a previous post and in my weekly client e-newsletter.  A presentation given to our Grandville, Michigan Rotary group tugged at my heart and renewed within me the passion to help spread the word about the vital importance of proper estate planning to families with children who have special needs.  Some of the great folks behind Benjamin’s Hope spoke to us about the struggles and joys of having a child with special needs (specifically autism in this case) and the vision they have for a unique location where children can reach their full potential.

I’m not going to pretend that I know what it is like to be a parent of a special needs child.  However, I have clients, friends and colleagues who have children with special needs and it has taught me this – they are children first and foremost.  They light up their parents lives and bring joy to those whose lives they touch.  And yes, there are added stresses and struggles.  The great thing about West Michigan is that there are numerous resources available to parents and their special needs children.  And although they may not qualify for them now, due to the parents’ income or other factors, there are also financial resources available through government programs and private programs.

As parents, we love our children more than anything in the world.  So why wouldn’t we want them to receive every benefit available to them?  Yet many parents put their children at risk of not receiving these benefits because they don’t spend the time or money to put a proper estate plan in place (or they don’t know what options are available).  And what if something happened to the parents? It’s a critical consideration for all parents and even moreso for the parents of a special needs child.  Who would care for your child?  Do they know how to care for a child with special needs?  Would a care manager be important?  Have you provided for one and given direction on how he or she should be involved?  Have you provided financial resources through life insurance or investments so your child can enjoy the life you want them to have?  Have you made sure to protect whatever benefits they may be entitled to as they get older or are they at risk because of the planning you’ve done (or lack of planning)?

As an attorney who focuses in estate planning, I make it a point to keep up on the unique planning opportunities available to parents with special needs children.  Please, please, please make sure to put a comprehensive plan in place.  There’s no doubt you care very deeply about your child(ren) – show it by planning for their future.  And make sure whatever attorney you work with has specific training, knowledge and experience planning for children with special needs.  We can help if you call (616) 827-7596 – mention this blog post and we will waive the fee for your Peace of Mind Planning Session ($550 value)!

Michael Lichterman is an estate planning attorney who helps families and business owners create a lasting legacy by planning for their Whole Family Wealth™.  This goes beyond merely planning for finances – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you.  He focuses on planning for  the “experienced” generation, the “sandwich generation” (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, and family owned business succession – and he is privileged to do so from a Christian perspective.  He takes the “counselor” part of attorney and counselor at law very seriously, and enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients – many of which have become great friends.