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Planning for your disabled child's future

By ALLISON NORLIAN

NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (WKTV) - Families with disabled children have a lot to think about, including trusts, guardianship, programs and medical costs and needs.

That is why Drew Ward of Ward Law Firm believes you have to start planning early.

"Very simply, they assume, 'I have been doing this for my child for the last eighteen years,' and all of a sudden, they run into a road block, because now the child is legally of age and there is no plan in place," Ward said. "So it takes some planning ahead."

Ward also believes parents or family members should set up a third party trust for the benefit of the disabled child. This means if something happens to the guardian, the child will still receive benefits from the state and have flexibility on how to spend the money in the trust.

The important aspect of a trust is that it allows the child to have money that will not disqualify them from state aid.

Kathy Klosner, Senior Vice President of Adult and Community Services for Upstate Cerebral Palsy said there has been a system transition to a managed care system.

"Today, as people enter into service, they are going to go to living in apartments with support, living in homes with support, living in a certified setting," Klosner said. "That is not going to be the first option for people. Those options are for people with a much higher need then they had in the past."

The new system change also means that even if a disabled person were living in residential housing currently, they may be re-evaluated and moved, depending on what their needs actually are. The way you plan also depends on the severity of the child's disability.

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