Planning for retirement is an important step towards financial security. Finding the right plan for your family can be an intimidating feat, especially for families with a special needs child. In addition to planning for the future financial needs of two adults who are no longer receiving an income from an employer, these families also need to take into account the needs of another individual.

A recent piece in Financial Advisor discussed some of the challenges that can come with retirement planning in this situation. Three of the biggest issues noted include attempting to estimate the cost of the child’s care needs, determining the best cash flow options and deciding the right way to allocate investments.

Although the answers to these questions will vary with each family’s unique situation, there are some general steps that can help most in this situation. Two tips include:

  • Conservative may be best. In this situation, a conservative approach to retirement planning is generally best. Instead of allocating a large share of funds into high risk investments, a focus on a higher level of cash may be wise. This way, if the market takes a hit you can have access to funds to help meet your immediate needs.
  • Put together a special needs trust. This legal tool allows a disabled family member to receive monetary support both during and after the parent’s lifetime. If structured wisely, the assets in this trust will not interfere with the recipient’s ability to qualify for government assistance.

Although these two tips will not structure the entire retirement plan, they do provide a good foundation. From this point, additional steps can be taken and adjustments can be made to help better ensure the plan meets your needs.

Can I do this on my own? Setting up a trust and figuring out what tools are best to meet your goals is complex. As such, those in this situation are wise to reach out to an estate planning attorney. This legal professional can help you tailor the plan and give you tips on other tools that may be beneficial for your situation.