Special Needs Planning for the Adult Sibling

Whenever a family has a child with special needs, it is normally an all-hands-on-deck type of situation. Many times, the daily care of that child becomes the sole responsibility of the family.

When the parents pass away, the care of the child falls on the shoulders of that child’s brothers and sisters. It is a lot of added stress on these siblings.

However, certain steps can assist the family in transitioning into this new responsibility.

1. Start Slowly if Possible

The first step that can be taken is to have the adult sibling ease into the role of the special needs sibling’s caregiver. If it is anticipated that some day the special needs sibling will be the responsibility of the other sibling(s), it can be possible for that sibling to start assuming tasks that can help prepare him or her for that eventual role.

Begin taking the special needs sibling for the weekend from the adult children’s parents if they are still alive and begin taking the sibling to various doctor’s appointments. Become familiar with the special needs child’s medical care and routines.

It can give the aging parents of that child a great deal of peace of mind and can make the transition of care much easier if it is possible.

However, this slow transition is not always a possibility in the event a sudden death of the special need child’s parents occurs.

But if there is a way for the siblings to begin to assume responsibility of the special needs child, a slower transition is best. That way the adult sibling can plan for things that were not anticipated or expected as much as possible before he or she eases into full-time care.

2. Discuss Legal Needs and Questions

The odds are the parents of the adult special needs child have already set up a legal plan to continue care for the special needs child once the parents are no longer around.

However, if it is the plan that a sibling is to be the future caregiver for the adult special needs child, then that child also needs to be a part of the process. At the very least, the adult sibling needs to understand what his or her role is, as well as what legal rights and responsibilities go along with that role.

One major legal question that needs to be answered is whether this adult sibling will assume the role of guardian over the adult sibling with special needs.

All of these questions can be answered and accounted for in a special needs trust, which the adult sibling will need to have access to and be able to understand. The sooner these questions can be answered, and these discussions can take place, the better for all concerned.

3. Prepare a Financial Plan

It is advisable that some type of financial plan be put into place to ensure that the special needs child’s care is met.

However, not every family plans ahead. And many times, no plan is in place. If an adult sibling is aware that he or she will soon be the caregiver for their special needs sibling, it is extremely important that the sibling become familiar with what benefits the special needs sibling should be receiving.

Meet with an attorney to ensure that all of that sibling’s medical and other needs are met financially.

It is also important that the sibling know what the costs are for the day-to-day care of their special needs adult sibling not only for today but for the future if it is anticipated that the special needs siblings medical care and needs will change.

Planning ahead can go a long way in making the transition of care from the special needs sibling’s parents to that sibling’s brother or sister smoother for all involved.

Making sure that all of the proper precautions and preparations are made in advance can make this process much easier, especially when it comes to financial support for the special needs sibling.

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