Autism affects about 3.5 million Americans—and if you have a child on the autistic spectrum, you may be concerned about his or her future once you die. Thankfully, there are several things that you can do now to help provide for your child later. Here's what you should know.
1.) Buy Plenty Of Life Insurance.
Life insurance isn't just something that covers your funeral expenses—it's a way that you can provide for your family once you're gone. Experts advise that you consider two things: how much money will be needed to meet your immediate obligations, and how much future income your household will need.
Immediate expenses include things like funeral expenses, car payments, credit card bills, and mortgages. Future expenses can be a little harder to figure—it means calculating out your annual income for the number of years that you think you may need to replace it. Keep in mind that you'll also have to provide for special services that your child may need to cope with his or her autism, such as medication, occupational therapy, and counseling.
You may want to discuss the issue carefully with your insurance agent or a financial advisor before you decide on a policy.
2.) Pick A Guardian Carefully.
It may not be easy to find someone that you trust to care for a child with special needs. You want to consider both the willingness of someone to serve as your child's guardian and the potential guardian's capacity to deal with an autistic child, teen, or young adult in the future. Keep in mind that you want to have a backup guardian named, if possible, in case the position becomes overwhelming to the first person on the list.
Talk with potential guardians about a care plan for your child's future and make sure that they are on the same page you are. Many adults with autism are high functioning and can live independently with relatively little support from others, while some may need to live in a group home or care facility. Whatever your goals for your child's future, make sure that the guardians will commit to that objective.
3.) Get A Trust In Place.
If you leave your money directly to your child, it can jeopardize his or her ability to receive public benefits, like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income. However, there are ways to set up irrevocable trusts that will preserve your child's right to those types of benefits if his or her autism is disabling.
In addition, a trust will prevent your child from having direct access to the bulk of the money. Adults with disabilities, including autism, can be targeted by people who will try to manipulate them financially. Depending on your child's level of functioning, he or she simply may not be able to handle a large amount of money without assistance. A trust can help secure his or her long-term future.
For more assistance, talk to a probate attorney who handles issues with probate or estate planning in order to find out what needs to be done to protect your child's future if something happens to prevent you from being there yourself.
I'll be up front: I have a criminal record. As someone who's spent lots--and lots--of time looking for a job in my life, I've gotten used to being up front with this fact. It's difficult to get hired with this on my record, and frankly, it never gets less scary to have to tell an interviewer about it. But that doesn't mean I'm unemployable. I'm a hard worker who can bring a lot to any company. And I also know what an employer needs to do for me. I know my rights. There's no federal law protecting me from discrimination due to my record, but there are plenty of state laws that make it a little easier for me. If you're looking for a job and you have a criminal record, read through this information. Protect yourself during a job search. Know your rights.