Future Planning 101

What is Future Planning?

Future Planning is creating a guide for a person with an intellectual or developmental disability (I/DD) to lead a good life as independently as possible. A plan is important throughout all stages of life and especially in the future after the parent or caregiver is no longer able to provide support.

A person-centered future plan should reflect the wishes of the person with I/DD, as well as his or her parents, siblings, extended family members and friends, and other important people in his or her life. The plan should include information about all aspects of a person’s life including:

  • Daily routines, needs and supports
  • Living arrangements
  • Finances, including the family and person’s public benefits, assets, incomes, trusts, insurance policies
  • Doctors’ contact information and information about the person’s medical history (including any medications and food allergies)
  • Decision-making support
  • Education history
  • Details about the person’s employment, leisure activities, religious beliefs, behaviors, interests, friendships, and other important relationships

To help guide your planning, first ask: “During a life transition, what would the person need so his or her daily routine is maintained?” Next, create a vision for the person’s life after the transition. It is important to use a team approach when discussing and creating the plan and always to keep the person with I/DD’s interests, preferences, and skills as the main focus.

Who is on the future planning team?

Ask the person with I/DD who he or she would like to invite as part of the team, which can include the person with I/DD, parents, siblings, other family members, friends, legal and financial professionals, and other important people in the person’s life. Some of these people may live out-of-state but should be included if they play a large role in the person’s life. This team works together to identify and take steps to create the supports the person will need.

Future Planning: It’s Possible and Necessary

Future planning is important for all families. Thinking about the future can be challenging and emotional. However, experience shows that adults with I/DD make a better transition from the family home when a future plan is in place.

Some families might feel that planning is not available to them because they don’t have any money to leave to an adult son or daughter with I/DD or can’t afford a lawyer or estate planner. This is not true. There are many aspects of the planning process that aren’t related to money. It is also important that families with limited resources learn about what public benefits may be available and take steps to enroll their family member in available programs.