Financial Planning

When You Are a Caregiver

November 22, 2022

When someone you love is disabled, you want to do all that you can to assist them.

And with more than 25% of U.S. adults1 and 4% of children under 18 years old living with some type of disability,2 there is a chance you may one day be called upon to provide care. We share five tips that can help you do so in the best way possible.

  1. Provide emotional support. Showing empathy and care can reduce your loved one’s anxiety and stress and improve their overall well-being. Be an advocate and a good listener, allowing them to express their emotions without judgment.
  2. Confirm that all paperwork is in order. There are both legal and non-binding documents that help facilitate care, including:
    1. A letter of wishes or care plan – allows you to provide instructions on how to care for your special needs child or other disabled family member should something happen to you. The letter can contain anything from your wishes on financial matters, to medication sensitivity, to favorite (and least favorite) foods. Although it’s not a legally binding document, the information can help the next caregiver make better decisions on your family member’s behalf.
    2. A healthcare proxy - authorizes you to oversee the medical care for an incapacitated adult. Each state has its own forms and requirements. It should be signed before it is needed.
    3. A living will - dictates the end-of-life interventions your family member wishes (or does not wish) to receive.
    4. A durable power of attorney – entitles you to manage the finances of someone unable to do so for themselves.
    5. A will or trust – ensures your loved one’s assets are distributed as they intended, or that your assets are used to care for your loved one with a disability or special needs when you are no longer around to do so.
    6. Other important paperwork – gives you the information you need to keep their affairs in order. This includes financial account statements, Social Security information, property deeds, insurance, medical coverage, and the bills they need to pay.
  3. Coordinate the logistics. Even if you live far away, there are opportunities to assist a loved one with the tasks they need to complete. For example, you can organize rides to medical appointments and social engagements, order groceries online for delivery, and arrange for a nurse or a neighbor to check in on them
  4. Protect their finances. If you have a loved one with autism or other disability, you (and other family members) may wish to ensure they are cared for financially when you are no longer there. However, certain financial assistance can jeopardize their eligibility for government benefits, including Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. A Special Needs Trust is a way to preserve these benefits, if applicable, but you need to work with a specialist who understands how to draft it properly. If the care you’re providing is for an aging parent, make sure you know the assets at their disposal, including long-term care insurance or other coverage. If you think you may be asked for financial support, it’s best to plan ahead with your Washington Trust Wealth Advisor and factor these potential expenses into your own wealth plan.
  5. Take care of yourself. As the saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Keeping yourself physically and mentally healthy will help you be a productive caregiver. Don’t feel guilty about requesting assistance so you can find time to exercise, eat right, and attend to your physical and mental health needs.

Count on your Washington Trust Wealth Advisor for guidance

Your Washington Trust Wealth Advisor can help you create a Special Needs Trust and offer suggestions for providing the best possible care when someone you love is disabled.

Not yet working with a Washington Trust Wealth Advisor? Please contact us to learn more!

1 Disability Impacts All of Us, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 28, 2022

2 Childhood Disability in the United States: 2019, United States Census Bureau, March 25, 2021

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