Special Needs Financial Planning
Statistics of families with Special Needs Children/Adults
According to Stats Canada 2006, 12.4% of the entire Canadian population are families that have Special Needs Children or Special Needs Adults.
This translates to approximately 5.4 million Families in Canada.
Discounting this number by 75%, we could extrapolate that in Ontario, there are approximately one million families with a Special Needs Child or Special Needs Adult.
Another statistic from the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth is that one out of nine children has Special Needs.
Not all Financial Advisors are trained and familiar in this specialized segment of the population.
In this specialized segment of the population, there is so much information. It is no wonder that families can fall into frustration and confusion that leave them to procrastinate or not be fully productive and satisfy the needs of the child.
From a protection perspective, we need to define Special Needs Children and Special Needs Adults more clearly.
Special Needs addresses 2 areas of concern quite typically:
- Cognitive impairment
- Physical impairment
- Or Both.
For planners, it is important to become familiar with the situations and the meaning of the impairment to be able to effectively work with families and address the needs completely.
Families would feel better understood if the planner speaks the language of the child’s need(s)that would result in a trusted relationship that would overcome barriers such as the situations in financial hardships.
For example, if we take Autism, we can consider the spectrum of Autism.
The spectrum of Autism includes the different types of Autism:
One type of Autism that one child may have been diagnosed with is a highly functioning verbal capability, while another is an adult that has a non-verbal functioning capacity.
There are two types of treatments available today. First treatment is known as Applied Behavior Analysis “ABA.” The second is known as Intensive Behavioral Interruption “IBI.” Both interventions contribute to helping families design the appropriate ongoing therapy for progress and the development of the child in the area needed.
There are many resources and services available and planners should be aware of some of these. Some families may have accessed one service, yet are unaware or not have had time to utilize other services.
For example, Developmental Services Ontario “DSO” that can be researched through following link: www.dsontario.ca
DSO specifically works with families in terms of determining which services in the communities work best for certain needs of that Special Needs Child or Adult.
The Passport Program is the funding arm of the DSO. This program will determine the amount of money that will be granted to the family depending on the needs of the specific child or adult. This link can be used to help access the following: mcss.gov.on.ca
This program that supports families and caregivers of an adult with a developmental disability, so they can continue in their supportive role.
There are many other resources accessible such as the DTC that is formally titled “The Disability Tax Credit” as well as the RDSP that is formally titled as the Registered Disability Savings Plan.
Specialists like myself work with a team of experts such as Estate Planning Lawyers who are involved in designing the proper and unchallengeable Will(s) and Power(s) of Attorney that would include the building of a “Henson Trust.”
Each situation is unique, and each family needs a customized plan to meet their specific needs. “Everyone has a plan, it’s either by design or default.”
What are some of the pitfalls to look out for?
As a parent, the term “equalization” is a heavy thought as there can be more than one child in which tender care is equally divided, however, the Special Needs of a child within a family must be handled with greater care.
Advisors that help plan through acting on insurance should be aware of the fact that having all the children as equal beneficiaries may not be the right solution. This is due to the reason that was briefly discussed such as the need for greater care.
Beneficiary designations on a life insurance policy, an investment, and a pension plan or similarly an RRSP could also be problematic.
In order to qualify for an RDSP (Registered Disability Savings Plan), the Special Needs Child needs to qualify for a DTC (Disability Tax Credit. This would enable them to access the $70,000 grant that would be available and the $20,000 bond. This financial instrument has no effect on a child receiving ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Payment)
Parents and Guardians need to ensure that they seek the proper advice from highly specialized Estate Planners who work with a variety families that help cope with situations like theirs. Families must often remember in the midst of setting up government funding when in doubt, not to hesitate to do their research to help them to continue this process.
Shehnaz Hussain works with a team of experts at Fred Ryall & Associates. She receives great joy in lifting the financial burden off the shoulders of families and ensuring that families with Special Needs Adults or Children will continue their journey in life even after you can no longer walk this earth.