My husband, Rick, and I learned early to be proactive in planning for our children’s futures.
We had to write our wills. It was important to have designated guardians for our underage children. We also needed to plan for their financial future.
Since it was not a pleasant subject, we kept putting it off. When the two of us took a much needed couple’s weekend, I was so scared something would happen to us. I insisted we book separate flights. Enough, already!
My sister and her husband were the best possible option to raise our children if we couldn’t. That was only part of the equation. We still had to ask if they would raise 2 children with disabilities. They are great people. We thought they would say yes. But asking them was hard. We talked to them about our request. They immediately agreed. What a relief. They are such amazing parents. We know that they will raise our children as their own if necessary.
We also had to have a plan in place for our kids’ financial needs. We needed to guard our oldest son's future SSI, Medicaid, and other benefits. We made plans for a Special Needs Trust for him. His portion of our estate would fund into that trust.
Finally, we wrote our will. It stipulated our kids’ guardians, info about the trusts, and other details. We designated my brother-in-law as executor, knowing he would always have our children’s best interests at heart. An attorney friend wrote the document. We made sure all the right people had copies. We planned our kids’ futures in the best way we knew.
We learned that we needed to update the will on a regular basis. The death of our oldest son, the adoption of our youngest, and our daughter attaining adulthood were all milestones that required updating our will. When our youngest was diagnosed with autism, we established a Special Needs Trust for him, too.
Going through the process was hard. But securing our children’s futures gave us amazing peace of mind.
My daughter had a date coming up. She was going to dinner at a restaurant with a young man. But first there was work to do.
Parents must decide when or whether to tell their child about their disability.