Start planning today, now, for your child's future. We are proud to be their advocates and we know we do a good job, but who will be their voice when you are gone? Here's 5 steps to take to get you going in the right direction:
1. Letter of Intent. This is not a legal document, but rather something that will describe your dreams, wishes and plans for your child with autism after you die. Keep it with your will.
2. Your will. The best thing you can do for your child, autism or not, is to write a will. At the very least a Living Will. These should not be expensive to draft up. If you feel you are being charged too much, move on to another attorney and one you feel comfortable with.
3. A special needs trust: Preferrably a third party trust. This is something you will need to spend some extra time and money on. You will get what you paid for with this document, but there is nothing better to protect your child's future than one of these. If you have life insurance, it goes here. Nothing, and I mean nothing, should be given to your child through anyone's will, and instead the trust is the recipient of the property and money.
4. Binder - go buy one, divide it into sections of Medical, SSI, Medicaid, IEPs, Legal Documents and put the cutest picture you can find of your child right on the front. Carry it with you where you go. Don't worry about the huge pile of paperwork, just start with the current stuff you have now and work your way into putting the old records. Just one piece of paper at a time.
5. A Circle of Support - Find some other families, moms, dads, kids in your child's class, sibling's friends, aunts, uncles, neighbors, local store owners - anyone your child comes across regularly in a day. Sometimes the hard fact is that this is not someone you are related to and in the autism world we have had to be our own family to each other. This is a family or families for which you can create a future together. You can purchase a home together for your children to live in; you can make a pact to be each other's emergency partner when there is a natural disaster or you get sick. These are people you and your child choose to have in your lives. Hold regular meetings with these circle members and focus on a celebration and a purpose of what you will accomplish: Housing, jobs, transportation and fulfilling dreams.
More in the next article about the specifics of how to create and make each of these items work. In the meantime, contact me and I will send you some of the documents you will need to get going.