Appreciation For Our Family Members With Special Needs
Rob Wrubel CFP®, AIF®
The Blueprints financial and estate planning process for families with special needs is broken into five key steps:
- Envisioning The Future
- Building Your Foundation
- Framing The House
- A Roof Over Your Head
- Finishing Touches.
In Step 1, I encourage families with special needs members to write appreciation lists. We start with all the ways we appreciate our special needs family member.
So often, we are running around taking care of the additional issues that are part of life with a special needs person. Most families do not have two to four different kinds of therapies each week to get to. Most families do not have to meet with school counselors, Social Security staff or state agency personnel. Most families expect their sons and daughters to drive and do not have to arrange transportation for their adult children.
The appreciation list helps remind us of all the wonderful aspects of the family member with special needs. It helps turn thoughts from stress and worry to positive feelings and excitement about helping make life as full and rich as possible.
My appreciation list includes the laughter and smiles that we have most days with my daughter. It includes learning to slow down to understand her better and by slowing down, learning to understand others better as well. It includes the fact that I have made so many new friends and relationships with people in my community I would never have met if I did not have my daughter.
Financial planning requires us to think ahead to the future we want to see. Some planning elements will take years to accomplish – like saving for retirement and building accounts to fund trusts. We need an emotional pull at times to keep us on track – a strong reason to remind us why we need to save instead of spend and to preserve capital over the years.
The appreciation list puts us in the proper frame of mind to look at trusts, budgets, savings and other financial planning or legal tools with a purpose. We work every day with these tools but most families have a certain fear of sitting down to think about trusts, investments and planning. Approaching planning meetings, reviews and thinking with a positive outlook makes a significant difference in achieving your goals.
The next step is writing down at least three other items you appreciate in your life today.
So often, parents and involved relatives cannot distance themselves from their role as caregiver of a special needs person. The families we see that accomplish their goals find ways to balance their special needs role and other aspects of life. Often, there are other family members and so you may need to write down and show more appreciation towards those people. Do not forget to show appreciation for yourself.
We are working towards generating positive emotions in this step to start the planning and envisioning process with fresh thoughts and good feelings.
My sister-in-law created a new family tradition for our family at Thanksgiving. She finds these tiny books with a few pages and different colored covers. We write down what we appreciate and give thanks for and then read them out to each other after the meal. We each walk away from the table happier and more fulfilled as a result.
Approach the New Year filled with thanks and appreciation for yourself, your family and the people you cherish. Take the next steps to building a strong future for your special needs family member.
Rob Wrubel CFP®, AIF®, is a Senior Vice President – Investments with Cascade Investment Group, member FINRA & SIPC. Rob is also a father of a daughter with Down syndrome. Cascade Investment Group is not a tax or legal advisor. You should always consult with your tax advisor or attorney before taking any actions that may have tax consequences.719-632-0818