The New York Times published an interesting story last week discussing the “psychic toll” paid by families working to raise a child with special needs. The article attempts to delve into some of the more nuanced issues related to conducting special needs planning to take care of the finances and long-term care issues for these loved ones. The basic tasks–often including things like creating a special needs trust–are not necessarily confusing or complex. However, that doesn’t mean the planning is easy. That is because there are a plethora of mental and emotional challenges that go into this work.
The author explains, for example, that simply deciding on the appropriate living situation for a family member with special needs can be emotionally and spiritually taxing, regardless of the financial issues tied into the decision. Should the child live at home for as long as possible? Is it better for him or her to move into a group home? What happens if the child lives at home but is then forced to move out into unfamiliar territory after the parents pass away? These and many similar questions must be discussed thoroughly to ensure long-term financial plans best matcht the family’s wishes.
On top of that, the story explains how working through this issues must be done in such as way as to ensure other family dynamics are kept intact. Stress and disagreement associated with these challenges has led to many divorces or other family feuds. It is helpful to be aware of these risks and make decisions in a manner that does not destroy important relationships. One frightening and oft-repeated statistic is that 75% of couples with a special needs child ultimately get divorced. Many have challenged that accuracy of that statistic, but it is accepted that various strains are placed on a relationship when raising a child with these challenges. Couples must undoubtedly be proactive in their planning efforts so that the situation is as controlled as possible. Leaving things up to chance and simply taking every new crisis fresh is a recipe for relationship drama.
The articles shares a few examples of couples who have made different decisions about long-term care and financial plans for their children. Some decide to ease their loved ones into group homes. Others have kept them at home and have detailed long-term plans about how the family will help following the event of a parent’s death or disability.
Unfortunately, there are no “quick fixes” in the law to make this planning without stress. However, there is a world of difference between trying to go it alone and having the assistance of professionals who have worked with countless families on similar issues in the past. If you are in New York City, Albany, Fishkill, Middletown, Nyack, Rhinebeck, Saratoga Springs, White Plains, or elsewhere in the state, please take a moment to call one of our offices and see how we can help.
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