Your child has been the centre of your life for years and depends on you to be the interface between him and the world. One day you wake up and realize you are faced with a new and frightening dilemma: Who will provide the same love, care and finances when you are too old or frail or sick to manage or when you are no more? It’s a familiar worry for every parent of an adult child with disabilities.
Though the Government of India has formulated the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities in February 2006 which deals with Physical, Educational & Economic Rehabilitation of persons with disabilities and also focuses upon rehabilitation of women and children with disabilities, barrier free environment, social security, research etc. but till date there is no system in place which can guarantee parents any relief for their disabled child’s secure future.
Sadly, children with special needs find themselves in a disadvantageous position when it comes to availing benefit of financial services; there are neither any insurance nor savings plans that are tailored for their needs. A few insurance policies from LIC existed till a few years ago; however, these also have been discontinued, with no alternatives. Most insurers do not have a clear insurance policy that would work for such children. It therefore, becomes incumbent on the parents to plan for not just for their own retirement but also for making provisions for future of their disabled child after the parent is no more.
Your job as a parent isn’t limited to a financial plan. Without a comprehensive plan, your child could be emotionally traumatized by losing everything at once (parent, home, and a familiar environment) if case you suddenly become invalid or die. Loving your child means beginning the process of emotional planning by letting go and also guiding him to detach with you as much possible. Your child needs your support in transitioning to live without you. You also need the peace of mind, and relief that comes with knowing that your child will be safe and cared for after you leave.
One should never assume that the siblings or other relatives will provide care to the disabled persons throughout their life. It is not unusual for brothers and sisters to make promises to a dying parent but they may not be able to keep it for life long. Therefore, the issue must be discussed threadbare in a family meeting to find about what siblings or other relatives realistically can do and how the issue shall be addressed in future.
Planning must be done as early as possible to find the best possible solution which places least burden on any of the sibling or relative. Before creating a plan for your child, make sure that you have a realistic understanding of the funds needed to take care of him in years to come and what will be the process of managing the fund. Do not assume that simply leaving the property or funds in the name of your disabled child will ensure him a secured future. Make sure that the state government rules permit the disabled child to own the property or the funds.
Creating a Comprehensive plan
When it comes to children with disabilities, their needs are never limited and the financial implications only go up with time. Besides normal living expenses they also require regular and ever increasing expenses towards, medication, therapies and fees for a caregiver. A comprehensive and successful planning can be done in India either through a will and appointing a guardian or by creating a trust to take care of the disabled persons.
Most financial planners, who are consulted by families having children with disabilities, insist that the parents must be adequately insured to meet emergencies and setting up a trust is a much better option. Planners warn that the biggest mistake families make is to not making a proper financial plan and depend on their sympathetic relatives to be made the caregivers of their child after their demise. Creating a trust to look after a disabled child is a much better option than leaving a will with a guardian or leaving money to relatives and expecting that they will look after your disabled child in future.
The concern is not only who will care for your child, but are they capable to handle the financial and personal responsibility of an adult who will not be able to live independently? Suitable financial planning has to done so that necessary funds are available when your child needs it. Invariably the common mistake committed by most people is that parents fail to develop a comprehensive plan, not getting the right documents in place and not having the trust set up properly to pay attention to their assets, like life insurance, shares/investments and retirement benefits.