The Bottom Line
By L. Mark Russell and Arnold E. Grant; 643 pages. Subtitle: Providing a Meaningful Life for a Child with a Disability After Your Death
This huge, comprehensive, example-packed volume seeks to tell you everything you need to know to plan for your special-needs child's future, and probably quite a bit that you can't even process yet. If you think you've got it all figured out, this book may find a couple of loose ends for you to tie; if you know you don't, it will show you where to start.
- A huge amount of information -- almost more than you can lift
- Plentiful examples, forms and templates to help you apply facts to your situation
- Gives advice on how to manage money to maintain government benefits
- Authors are attorneys with extensive experience in advising special-needs families
- Considers quality of life as well as strict financial maintenance of it
- Size, comprehensiveness, and costliness of book makes it somewhat daunting
- Some chapters only tangentially related to children with special needs could have been cut
- Most people will want to work directly with a lawyer or financial planner on this
- Chapter 1: The Life Plan
2: The Letter of Intent
3: Advocacy and Guardianship
- 4: Planning Your Child's Financial Future: The Role of Government Benefits
- 5: Calculating Your Child's Financial Needs
- 6: The Basic Estate Plan: The Will and the Special Needs Trust
- 7: Government Benefits and the Resource Limitation
8: Using Living Trusts to Avoid Probate
- 9: Reducing the Estate Tax Owing at Your Death
- 10: The Health Care Declaration and the Durable Power of Attorney
- 11: Protecting Your Property from Nursing Home Expenses
12: Developing Your Financial Plan
- 13: Personal Injury Awards
14: Income Tax
15: The Final Steps: Putting Your Estate in Order
- Appendices: Preparation for Attorney Meeting, Estate Plan Organizer, Financial Needs Analysis
Guide Review - Book Review: Planning for the Future
After finishing this hefty book, I turned to my husband and said, "Honey, I've just read about all the things we need to do to make sure our kids are okay after we're gone, and I've made a decision: Let's just not die."
If only that was an option. Planning for your children's future without you is hard work, and it's easy to put it off, especially when you're busy fighting the daily good fight against school districts and doctors and therapists and insurance companies and your child's ruthless disabilities. Taking the short view sometimes seems like the only way you can get through the days, but the long view needs your attention, too, and this book is a good way to bring it into focus.
There's a lot of information here, maybe too much to take in on one reading. Start with the life plan and letter of intent, and really think about what the people who help your child when you're gone will need to know. The rest may ultimately be left to the assistance of professionals, although this book will serve as a good reference to who you need to consult, what they're talking about, and whether their advice is right for your family.
Most of the advice here is specific to families of persons with special needs, but more general chapters on probate, estate tax, living wills and nursing-home expenses, while important in terms of keeping the most money available for your child, might have been cut to make this big, $90 book a more manageable size and price.