Overcoming Planning Procrastination

By Steve Rhatigan, Principal & Founder, Archer Consulting Group

Overcoming Planning Procrastination “Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal.”

This simple statement exposes the obstacles to effective planning when a person with special needs is involved. The reality of the lives of those charged with the care of a child or sibling with a disabling condition is best described as a “daily marathon”, essentially head down and running flat out forward. It allows little time for anything but the tasks at hand and no time for reflection or preparation.

This is not a favorable environment for planning for the future. But plan they must, for the other reality of life is that we all face a future that has a beginning and, most assuredly, an end. And that’s where our journey begins; at the end.

In this writer’s thirty plus years of special needs lifetime care planning experiences, insights have developed into the psychological makeup of these remarkable people whose daily lives revolve around the care of their loved one with special needs. From the start of the day until its end, they are concerned with the care, support and protection of this person and everything else is secondary. The extent of the care varies as each situation and the support needs are unique, but it is always essential to the well-being of that person. Whatever the level of care, it always brings the caregiver back to asking one simple question, “What will happen when I am no longer able to provide the daily support that they need?”.  The enormity of that question, and its answers, provide the platform for this article and those that will follow.

The art and science of special needs estate and financial planning is complex, covering all the usual aspects of generalized planning but with its own unique language and a myriad of additional components that must be addressed if the plan is to be effective. These complexities, along with the natural emotional aspects, cause many to do inadequate planning or even no plan at all. In this case, the old adage “What you don’t know can’t hurt you” is patently false. It can and will.

In the mind of most people who do some form of futures planning, it is approached as an event; like your annual flu shot. They pull together the required information, get with a planner of unknown quality, and eventually generate a pile of documents. Now satisfied that they have completed these superficial requirements, it is filed away and soon forgotten. Sadly, they now rest on a false sense of security which will, most likely, not be adequate to the future tasks.

Special needs lifetime care planning, when designed and implemented properly, is entirely different; with much more complexity and definitely not a one-time event. It is a process and a system — with defined procedures to ensure that all the unique issues are adequately addressed. And, it is dynamic by nature. Just as the life of a person with special needs will have detours that require attention, so must their lifetime care plan. It must be constantly reviewed, revised and strengthened to keep it viable.

To accomplish this daunting task requires the additional commitment of time and energy from the caregiver plus the guidance of various experienced planning professionals. The success of any life plan is decided by both the quality of the questions asked and a focused and coordinated effort from the planning team. Ideally, working with an experienced team will allow for the development of the proper plan while keeping your time commitment to a minimum.

The first step in the process is the Care Plan. Basically, this is a historical accounting of the levels of physical and financial support that are required on a daily basis to maintain a safe environment. Each person, regardless of labels, is unique. The supports may be minimal or extreme, as in 24/7. It is also the measuring stick, used to make every other decision that will be part of the plan, from the choice of successor caregivers, guardians, trustees and even potential transition and residential placements. To start a care plan, get a simple notebook and for 30 days record every physical and financial action you take on behalf of your individual, including times and amounts. When you do the sums at the end of that period you will once again be reminded of the scale and truly remarkable nature of your commitment.

Here’s a quick test to see if you have a viable plan. Ask yourself if you were gone tomorrow, do you have:

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If you are missing any of these basic components, or if it’s been more than 5 years since your plan was developed, then you should consider contacting Archer Consulting for a no cost introductory meeting. It will be well worth your time investment.

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Steve Rhatigan
Principal & Founder

Archer Consulting Group
Financial, Legal and Lifetime Care Strategies
Special Needs Planning
1717 St. James Place, Suite 205
Houston, TX  77056

713.572.1717  Office
713.724.9539  Mobile
713.572.1723  Fax