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Many parents of special needs children are painfully aware of the need to do planning.  They understand that, as their child matures and as they age, they may not be able to either financially or physically be their child’s full-time caregiver.

The world of special needs planning can be complicated, with special needs trusts, guardianships, advance care directives, etc.

Contingencies are taken into account.  For example, rarely do married adults die on the same day.  So, special needs planning advisors (usually attorneys) devise a strategy that will start working when one parent passes away.  Arrangements are made for decreased pension income and the like.

However, sometimes these same planning-oriented adults and their advisors have a blind spot: long-term care planning.  What if the parent of a special-needs child doesn’t die quickly?  Often plans may fail to take into account the fact that extended care may be needed by a parent before they pass away. 

As more and more of us live longer and longer, we tend to live many years with chronic diseases.  So, imagine the emotional, physical and financial toll taken on a special-needs family when either mom or dad (or dare we say both) need long-term care before they pass away.  Let’s look at a potential scenario: mom and dad have been care providers for John, their special-needs child, his whole life.  They are both now retired, when dad suffers a debilitating stroke.  Now mom is the sole caretaker of not only John, but of her disabled spouse.

The situation is sad, but it doesn’t have to be financially or physically tragic.  Instead of providing all the hands-on care herself, if dad had a long-term care insurance policy in place before the stroke, it would help pay for care giving.  Mom could continue to take care of son John knowing dad was receiving competent, professional care either in their own home or in a facility. 

Once dad has passed away, mom’s need for a long-term care insurance policy of her own becomes more apparent.  If John is her only child, he cannot obviously be her caregiver.  If John has siblings, mom would probably rather have them helping out John than trying to split their precious time between care giving for both of them!

Although special needs children are normally not insurable against the cost of long-term care, be sure to remember that their parents and siblings need this important protection.