Being the parent of child with special needs comes with unique responsibilities. Yet you need to have peace of mind that someone will care for your child, regardless of the path your family’s life takes.

Every decision regarding your child takes careful thought and consideration. Estate planning is no exception. Creating an estate plan well in advance can ensure your special needs child has everything he or she needs to thrive, even if something happens to you. Use these tips to get started.

Create a detailed list of important information

Gather all the information your estate plan will need. You may need the names and contact numbers of your child’s doctors and education centers, as well as health and life insurance information. List all the assets and liabilities of your estate.

Estimate the future financial requirements your special needs child will have. Do not forget housing, food, transportation and medical items. Your family may qualify for government financial aid that could supplement your estate.

Build your estate plan

Once you have important information gathered in one place, start your actual estate plan. Think about the decisions you do not want others to have to make on you or your child’s behalf. Address these issues by stating your wishes if something were to happen to you and your spouse.

Write down detailed descriptions of how the personal representative of your estate should handle things such as asset distribution. Identify a power of attorney that can make health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Next, you and your attorney will need to work out details such as how your child will receive income, who will take care of his or her medical needs and where your child will live.

If you feel it is too difficult for you to think about yourself passing away and leaving behind a child with special needs, consider the alternative. What may happen if you do not plan ahead? You have the power to secure your child’s future right now, with a carefully established estate plan.