A new study estimates that 1/88 births is on the autism spectrum, even more pervasive than previously reported. April is National Autism Awareness Month but since my daughter is a Speech Pathologist and my adult nephew is autistic I am acutely aware of this condition and its ramifications all of the time. These new numbers are alarming but I am equally alarmed by another question--what will happen to all of these children when their parents die? Who will care for 30 and 40 year old adults with autism who cannot take care of themselves?
As an insurance broker and advocate of utilizing life insurance to create an inheritance for your children, I can't imagine a group where this need is more prevalent. Large amounts of funds will be needed to provide ongoing food, shelter, and custodial care for these adults with autism. And since the numbers are increasing, this will be a public health issue that may place a crushing burden on our federal and state governments. So, although ultimately this care may fall on the shoulders of the government, my life experiences tell me that the quality of care will be better for those that have their own money rather than those that will have to rely on institutionalization.
Since autism has not been shown to decrease life expectancy, funding will be needed for 30-40 years of care and only the very wealthy will be able to leave their children enough money to meet this need. Even if extended family is willing and able to care for these adults with autism it would place an incredible financial burden on those family members if there is not enough money left for their care.
So how can a parent bequeath a million dollars to take care of their child with autism after their death if they're not a millionaire? Life insurance provides a unique solution to this problem. Because these are large policies the premiums will be higher depending on the age and health of the parents when the policy is issued so it is imperative that parents discuss this option with an insurance agent sooner rather than later. But I can't think of another way to be assured that your autistic child will receive the same level of care and love after your death than to invest in a large life insurance policy now.