Fraser's story

Grant Family photo upside-410-895The saying “You never know what’s around the corner” is never more relevant than when a family includes a child with special needs. This is the situation I have with my family.

From a financial point of view, this raises many questions as the reality of having a child that will always be dependent starts to sink in. What government support is available? What will happen when myself and my partner are no longer able to look after him? What will be the financial impact on the other children? How will his care requirements affect our ability to work and earn money?

As with any financial plan the secret is; get started as early as possible. The first step for us was to pull the future apart as much as we could and look at the implications. During this process we uncovered the following:

  • We want to be able to keep our son at home for as long as possible, this will mean there is a high chance we could have a carer living with us in the future.
  • Most of our finances when we pass away will need to be retained to make sure our son is provided for; this will have a big impact on our three remaining children as they won’t have the financial boost of an inheritance.

We developed some costs to attach to these expenses, and using the financial modelling tools available through Milestone, came up with a savings and investment strategy that will deliver enough income to allow our other children to continue making suitable decisions for Frasers care when we’re no longer around, without the burden of money.

Incorporated in the plan are provisions for helping the other children financially when they are in their mid 20’s to allow for the fact they won’t get an inheritance.

This process was very valuable as it has now given the situation clarity and structure as opposed to us wondering how we were going to make sure everyone was going to be looked after. Having a clear plan helped to relieve any stress we were feeling.

Coupled with the financial plan we ran a review of our personal insurance cover to make sure we were covered should anything interrupt our ability to work and earn an income.

The other benefit of this process has been making sure our children are money aware. My eldest daughter is one year away from leaving school and has a couple of part time jobs. We have regular discussions around money and the importance of having good savings habits. She joined KiwiSaver and contributes the maximum amount; what she doesn’t have she doesn’t miss. In addition to KiwiSaver she has other savings targets. To achieve these goals we encourage her to think about the purchases she makes and weigh up if they are good decisions.

So, while our situation has the added aspect of a son with special needs, the process of setting financial goals remains the same and can be broken down into three compartments that are very much connected:

  1. Legal - make sure your wills, enduring power of attorney, and trust structures (if you have/need one) are in place and up to date.
  2. Financial - develop a plan that will deliver your financial goals.
  3. Insurance - make sure you have adequate cover to ensure that if something happens the financial plan isn’t derailed.
Written by Gerard Grant