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How Do I Financially Plan for My Child with Special Needs' Future?

Raising children is expensive. This is especially true when it comes to raising a child with special needs. In fact, one study by Autism Speaks estimated that the average lifetime cost to raise a child with autism is $1.4 million dollars. So how do you financially plan for the future of your child with special needs?

With planning and preparation, you can help to ensure your child has the help he needs, now and for the future. There are lots of organizations and services out there that can make the cost more manageable. The following are some of the steps you can take to help you financially plan for your child. With this information — and the help of qualified professionals — you’ll have the tools necessary to make informed decisions for your child’s future.

Make a Financial Plan

Your life is so busy that creating a financial plan can be difficult when you’re just trying to get through the day. However, if you want to make sure your child with special needs is taken care of after you’re gone, you need to do some planning. Here are some tips:

  • Get a team of experts involved. There are advocates available to help, as well as attorneys, doctors, and accountants.
  • Write a letter of intent. This is a detailed explanation of your child's history, medical needs, doctors, and personality traits.
  • Develop a will. This gives your child's guardian a clear path about where your money should be distributed.
  • Create a Special Needs Trust. This makes sure your child won’t be disqualified from benefits programs.
  • Make a plan for saving. Making sure your child with special needs has funds to use after you’re gone is crucial to his wellbeing.

Special Needs Trust

The idea of creating a special needs trust can be overwhelming because the stakes are so high. Caregiving is a very demanding thing, and you as a parent are well aware of this. However, getting this completed will be a big weight off you. Having a trust in place ensures that there is a financial plan in place that will continue to provide your child with the highest quality of life possible. Otherwise, your money can get drained away very quickly and benefits can be lost. 

Government Benefits

There are many options that provide your family with government assistance and grants to enhance your financial plan. These benefits are applied for through lengthy, complex paperwork, and so it is recommended that you seek counsel from an expert to maximize your chances of getting what your child deserves.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is another way to safeguard the wellbeing of your child and to round out your financial plan. It's hard to know how long your child will live, but in most cases, he will outlive you as a parent. With this in mind, you should look into permanent life insurance; you won’t run the risk of your policy becoming too expensive or lapsing.


The interest earned on these options can range from 2% to 20% depending on the strategy. Professional advice is available on each of these and is highly recommended. This also includes your 401(k) and IRA holdings, which can be grown with an employer or on your own in a self-directed financial plan. When you have a child with special needs, some unique planning is involved. Work with your team and your family so you can develop the best means to provide for your child. Once your plan is created it will give you peace of mind that he is protected.
If you feel overwhelmed and you need help, please contact us.
American Advocacy Group is on the front lines every day, making positive change happen for people diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome and a range of diagnoses across the continuum. As a leading advocate for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and the premier provider of the support and services people want and need, we understand the system and know how to take action in regard to your best interests.
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