ASNP Member Featured on NPR Story About Parents with Special Needs Children

Theresa Varnet  
Theresa Varnet  

recent story on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” featured Academy of Special Needs Planners member attorney Theresa Varnet, who explained how parents can ensure a child with special needs will be cared for after the parents are no longer there to help

The July 5 segment with Varnet aired immediately after a story on a couple, Judy and James Lee, whose son has cerebral palsy and was born missing parts of his brain.  The Lees provide around-the-clock care for Justin, and at one point Mr. Lee wonders “I'm sure there's going to come a time when we're going to need to be cared for ourselves, so there's going to be three of us in here all needing some sort of care. I don't know what's going to happen then. I really don't know.".

For answers, NPR turned to Varnet, a Chicago attorney whose practice focuses on special needs, as well as Al Etmanski, co-founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN).  Both Varnet and Etmanski are themselves parents of children with special needs.

NPR reporter Kelly McEvers first asked Varnet to outline the help available for parents to ease the financial strain of raising a child with special needs, and then turned to the question of what parents can do to make sure their children are provided for financially after they’re gone. 

Varnet said that for most parents, a basic plan should include a special needs trust.  “A special needs trust can supplement and provide a higher quality of care, nicer eyeglasses, better dental care, recreation activities,’ Varnet said, “and perhaps pay for an advocate after they’re gone to make sure that the child is properly cared for, somebody who would do what the parent did for free.  And I would say as little as $250,000 would provide a nice safety net if you were living in a state that provided at least the basics.  Unfortunately, there are some states that don’t even provide the basics.”

To listen to the entire interview (about four minutes), click here.

For more on special needs trusts, click here.


Article Last Modified: 07/11/2014