Financial Planning

Planning for Families on the Autism Spectrum

April 06, 2022

It can be difficult to plan for the future for a child, grandchild, sibling, or other loved one who is on the autism spectrum or is not neurotypical. You may be functioning as de facto DIY caregiver, hyper-focused on the immediate present to deal with day-to-day issues and avoid or handle crises and flare-ups. It also can be difficult to predict what might be necessary or helpful in the future, since the impact of ASD can change over time, and the range of needs and challenges vary widely.

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, we share two key takeaways for caregivers and loved ones of individuals on the spectrum.

Build your team and your plan early

You need a plan of action tailored to your loved one’s specific needs, and the right team of educational, medical, legal, and financial experts can help you create one. To be successful, your team definitely needs specific subject matter expertise, but also needs to get to know and earn the trust of your loved one, which can be complicated for those with social processing issues.

Assembling your team and plan early helps to build trust, and incorporating sufficient flexibility allows the plan to adapt to your loved one’s changing needs and circumstances.

Consider a trust

A loved one diagnosed with ASD may be entitled to government benefits, and a properly- drafted special needs trust can protect your loved one’s assets, or allow you or others to provide them funds, without compromising those benefits. In addition, a properly drafted trust can help pay for expenses that are important but may not be covered by insurance or government benefits, such as testing, private schooling, and supporting your loved one’s unique special interests, so he or she can flourish. There are many rules governing special needs trusts, however, so it’s crucial to work with attorneys and trustees that have expertise and experience in this specific area.

Washington Trust Wealth Management takes the time to understand every client’s unique situation, and has specific experience, expertise, and focus on special needs planning. If you have a family member on the spectrum, you can count on your Washington Trust Advisor to provide thoughtful and actionable guidance tailored to your unique needs.

For more information, you can view our recent seminar, “Special Needs Trusts for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum”, or contact your advisor to discuss how we can best help your family.

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Any views or opinions expressed are those of Washington Trust Wealth Management. The information provided does not constitute legal, tax, or investment advice and it should not be relied on as such. It does not take into account any investor's particular investment objectives, strategies, tax status, or investment horizon. Please consult with a financial counselor, attorney, or tax professional regarding your specific investment, legal, or tax situation. It should not be considered a solicitation to buy or an offer to provide investment advisory or other services. All information is current as of the date of this material and may change at any time without prior notice. The information provided is solely for informational purposes and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but its accuracy is not guaranteed.