The future may seem an elusive concept when you are young. It is hard to think about the future when the present is so demanding. Planning your Will and establishing a trust for your child with a disability may seem unnecessary or impractical given other priorities.
You are likely preoccupied with starting a family, perhaps even a career as well, not to mention the extra attention your child with a disability requires. Making ends meet is your priority. You may have little disposable income let alone extra money to leave in a trust.
Nevertheless, from our contact with younger families we know you are worried about what might happen to your children if something should happen to you. To put your mind at ease we have collected some tips from the experiences of other families that may be of use to you.
- Write your Will – If you don’t have a Will, government has a formula for what happens to your estate and your children. Better you should do it. You will likely want to establish a discretionary trust in your Will for your child with a disability.
- Consider life insurance – By putting a little aside each month you can purchase life insurance so if something happens to you, the proceeds from the policy can be used to establish a trust for your child.
- Grandparents can help – Grandparents and other relatives can help by establishing a discretionary trust for your child in their Wills.
- Choose a guardian(s) – It is hard to imagine anyone else caring for your child and it may be hard to find someone willing. However, it is worth the effort. Someone you choose is better than someone chosen by government. Don’t worry about the finality of this decision. You can change guardians anytime circumstances change.
- Support your child’s friendships – Open your doors and invite others to be actively involved in your child’s life. Involve them in community activities, guides, scouts, ski lessons, poetry etc. You are investing in lifelong friends. You will be heartened by how many of these early contacts will reconnect at later stages of your son or daughter’s life.
- Apply for the federal disability tax credit – One of the few tax breaks available for families faced with extraordinary costs. Do not wait until your child is an adult as you can use this credit to save taxes now. The DTC is also the gateway to the Registered Disability Savings Plan.
- Open a Registered Disability Savings Plan – The RDSP is a long-term savings plan to help Canadians with disabilities and their families save for the future. Benefits include matching grants of up to $3,500 per year on eligible contributions, plus a bond of up to $1,000 per year even if no contribution is made. See rdsp.com for more information.
- Do not put funds in your child’s name – Even with the best of intentions, this action could disqualify them from government benefits when they are older.
- Connect with other families – There are number of family support groups out there. Take advantage of their expertise. Support group participants are either going through or have gone through what you are experiencing.
- Relax – You will receive more advice than you can act on. Take one step at a time and enjoy your child. Eventually you will get to all the important stuff.
- Establish a support network for your family – Organizing a group of people willing to support your family will keep you connected, reduce stress and create friends and supporters for your child.
- Imagine – The future holds unlimited possibilities. Allow yourself to visualize a future of safety, security and happiness for your child.