As advances in medicine continue, it's become more likely that special- needs children may outlive their parents. For example, the average life expectancy of a person with Down syndrome is 60 today, compared with only 25 in 1983, according to the National Down Syndrome Society.

Yet many families remain unprepared. Two-thirds of parents with special-needs children have not prepared wills, according to a study by MetLife of more than 1,700 parents. Nearly one-third have done nothing at all to plan for their child's financial future.

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