Financial planning important for parents of children with disabilities

April 5, 2009 It is important for families to have financial plans and living options for their children with disabilities.

Protected Tomorrows, an nationwide estate planner, addresses the fears, hope and dreams for families who have an individual with disabilities.

Located in Lincolnshire, Protected Tomorrows has been helping families for over 5 years.

"Our mission is to help every family be it wealthy, poor, middle class just help every family with everything financial, housing, finding resources," said Ehlert.

Ehlert, president and advocate for families with special needs, has 25 years experience.

"It used to be that when there was a crisis, when something happened to the parents, they passed away or they couldn't care for the child, there used to be funds available at the state level," said Ehlert. "With the economy the way it is, families are seriously looking at their situation because even in crisis mode, sometimes other family members have to step up."

Unfortunately, only 5 percent of families who have special need children have plans.

"Because if you're living with special need in your family," Ehlert said, "you're worried about medical schools, and for secondly families don't plan generally anyway they get by day to day. So, if you're getting by day by day, how can you think long term?"

Twenty-eight-year-old Barbie Kozdron is lucky. According to her sister, Rebecca, she and sister Julia are her co-guardians.

"If something was going to happen to my parents, Barbie would ideally move into some kid of a group home or an independent living situation," said Rebecca.

Protected Tomorrows is working with the family to help set up a plan that will work for every one.

"We had always assumed that Julia and I would just spilt the cost of taking care of her for the rest of our lives," Rebecca said, "and without having any children of my own or being married it's like all of the sudden you wake up ,and you've got an adult child that's going to be living with you for the rest of your life and how are you going to care for that person?

"This process has made it so different, because instead of becoming parent to her, I can still play the role of being her sister."

"Parents typically start to panic when their child is 17," said Ehlert, "because the bus is going to stop coming and they're not going to have a place for their child to go, so they should start thinking about it as soon as their child is born."

Barbie is relieved to know she will always be looked after.

"Becky is like a big sister to me. She'll always be there for me and I love her a lot," said Barbie.

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