How to Talk about the Money When Planning for the Future

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Sep 04, 2014 @ 09:24 AM

dad talk resized 600There are many ways to discuss your vision and your finances. It is often easiest to begin this process in a gradual manner and in an informal environment. Although it is important to have all family members in agreement, scheduling initial discussions in a formal meeting or large family setting is not always the best.

We recommend speaking to one child at a time, to get their feelings about their willingness to help. This will give them the opportunity to share ideas with you rather than you telling them what you hope will happen. Remember, caring for a family member with disabilities is a lifetime commitment that you do not want to force on anyone, yet it is important for them to know your intentions.

After everyone has had an opportunity to discuss their feelings and ideas in an informal way, you may wish to plan a discussion with everyone at once.  Since every family’s dynamics are unique, you will find the best way to communicate with your family.

The following steps should help to move the communication process along smoothly:

  • Share your vision
  • Talk about the amount of money you plan to have available to support your vision. You do not have to reveal all of your financial matters. You can choose to only mention the financial aspects that pertain to the needs of the family member with a disability.
  • Determine the best person to take on each role. For example, who is the best with finances? That person may be a good trustee or trust advisor of a Special Needs Trust. Who is most involved in the day to day life of the child? That person may be a good guardian.
  • Ask family members if they feel able to perform their roles independently. If not,design your plan to give them resources to work with. For example, let them know that they could hire an investment advisor to help with the trust management or a social worker to help oversee supports.

In our combined 30-plus years of planning, one of the biggest obstacles that we have encountered is that people do not feel comfortable talking about how much money they have. Even professionals in the field of providing services to families, including government agency employees that serve families, do not feel comfortable talking about money or the specific costs of providing services to individuals with disabilities. 

SNP STORY:

Although Charles is receiving all the benefits that he is eligible for and living independently, we feel that it is not enough for him to simply have what the government provides. We supplement his expenses by about $1,000 a month. This gives him the sense of self-worth and control to be able to do what he likes rather than do what someone else wants him to do. He has schizophrenia and his sense of self-worth is most important to his ability to function in life. In working with our financial planner and our attorney, we made arrangements for our other son to provide this supplement to support Charles’ needs without jeopardizing his government benefits when we are no longer able to. 

-- Charles’ father

Sometimes parents feel that they must treat all of their children equally. They feel that their children expect it. However, in many cases children without disabilities are more than willing to forego any type of inheritance to guarantee security for their brother or sister with  a disability. They understand the financial realities and would rather make sure their brother or sister is taken care of and would not expect that everything is shared equally.

One of the first steps that is required for you to be able to achieve financial security for your child is to overcome the reluctance to discuss the issues of money. We all know it takes money to provide services, staff, housing expenses, employment supports, transportation, education, health care services and the like. We also know that the government does not have an endless supply of money to fund these services.

So how do we determine how much money is needed? And how much is too much? Just as the educational needs of every child are unique, so are the long-term planning needs of every individual with special needs. Even two individuals with a similar medical and/or cognitive diagnosis, can have significantly different support requirements. With these varying requirements, costs will also vary. There is no clear answer; the best we can do is to maximize all resources and coordinate all of the Five Factors.That is why it is so important to have a comprehensive plan and to reevaluate it periodically.

Download our Special Needs Planning Checklist

Tags: financial planning, Special Needs Financial Planning, five factors of financial planning

For Sisters and Brothers: Our Sibtips

Posted by Patty Manko on Tue, Nov 26, 2013 @ 04:24 PM

James , alex, roxy copy 2 resized 600WE are both sisters of brothers with special needs. As we each step into the role of caretaker for our brother, there is a whole new world of terms and acronyms we need to learn. We call it the alphabet soup of special needs planning.
 
WE would like to share a glossary of terms we have learned over the past many years of providing Special Needs Financial Planning to families. As siblings, we have gathered some helpful tips to share and have included them as a SibTip with their respective term. have also included a directory of terms classified by our Five Factors of Special Needs Planning. 

Haddad Family.jpg copy 2 resized 600We hope you find this useful and we encourage you to share your tips and suggestions to make it an even better resource.  If it gets too overwhelming, know that we are here to help. 
 
Feel free to contact us at 781-756-1804 , on our website or via
Special Needs Planning on Facebook.
 
Enjoy the journey!!
 
Cynthia R. Haddad, CFP®, Ron's Sister
Alexandria M. Nadworny, James' Sister   
 
 
 Download  our  Sib Tips
 
 
              
                       
        

 

 

Tags: Special Needs Financial Planning, five factors of financial planning, siblings

Financial Factors in Special Needs Planning

Posted by Patricia Manko on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 @ 03:09 PM

financial factors Starting at a very young age we are taught about the value of money. Throughout our lives we associate the value of money to our life experiences such as paying for our own college education, purchasing a car, buying a house, saving for our own children’s college and our ultimate retirement – in addition to the daily expenses of our desired lifestyle.

Your Family's Financial Values or Standards

It is important to talk about the value of money and what it means to you because you can pass these values on to future caretakers and other family members. How you feel about money can also have an impact upon what you can achieve for your child's future. It does not do any good if you do not share your values of money with others. If parents do not articulate their vision, their financial capacity to achieve their goals and their financial intentions, their vision for their child may not happen. It is important to express your values to your financial advisors, trustees, guardians, and legal advisors, but also to your other family members. These individuals most likely will be the ones to follow through on implementing the plan that you have for your child.

SNP PLANNING POINTER:

Take a moment to ask yourself – What does money mean to me? Then take time to share those values with your family –this can be expressed in your Letter of Intent.

 Download a template for your Letter of Intent

Bringing Family Members into Your Discussions

There are many ways to discuss your vision and your finances. It is often easiest to begin this process in a gradual manner and in an informal environment. Although it is important to have all family members in agreement, scheduling initial discussions in a formal meeting or large family setting is not always the best. We recommend speaking to one child at a time, to get their feelings about their willingness to help. This will give them the opportunity ti share ideas with you rather than you telling them what you hope will happen. Remember, caring for a family member with disabilities is a lifetime commitment that you do not want to force on anyone, yet it is important for them to know your intentions.

After everyone has had an opportunity ti discuss tghuer feelings and ideas un and informal way, you may wish to plan a discussion wuth everyone at once.  Since every family’s dynamics are unique, you will find the best way to communicate with your family. The following steps should help to move the communication process along smoothly:

  • Share your vision
  • Talk about the amount of money you plan to have available to support your vision. You do not have to reveal all of your financial matters. You can choose to only mention the financial aspects that pertain to the needs of the family member with a disability.
  • Determine the best person to take on each role. For example, who is the best with finances? That person may be a good trustee or trust advisor of a Special Needs Trust. Who is most involved in the day to day life of the child? That person may be a good guardian.
  • Ask family members if they feel able to perform their roles independently. If not,design your plan to give them resources to work with. For example, let them know that they could hire an investment advisor to help with the trust management or a social worker to help oversee supports.

In our combined 30-plus years of planning, one of the biggest obstacles that we have encountered is that people do not feel comfortable talking about how much money they have. Even professionals in the field of providing services to families, including government agency employees that serve families, do not feel comfortable talking about money or the specific costs of providing services to individuals with disabilities. 

SNP STORY:

Although Charles is receiving all the benefits that he is eligible for and living independently, we feel that it is not enough for him to simply have what the government provides. We supplement his expenses by about $1,000 a month. This gives him the sense of self-worth and control to be able to do what he likes rather than do what someone else wants him to do. He has schizophrenia and his sense of self-worth is most important to his ability to function in life. In working with our financial planner and our attorney, we made arrangements for our other son to provide this supplement to support Charles’ needs without jeopardizing his government benefits when we are no longer able to. 

-- Charles’ father

Sometimes parents feel that they must treat all of their children equally. They feel that their children expect it. However, in many cases children without disabilities are more than willing to forego any type of inheritance to guarantee security for their brother or sister with  a disability. They understand the financial realities and would rather make sure their brother or sister is taken care of and would not expect that everything is shared equally.

One of the first steps that is required for you to be able to achieve financial security for your child is to overcome the reluctance to discuss the issues of money. We all know it takes money to provide services, staff, housing expenses, employment supports, transportation, education, health care services and the like. We also know that the government does not have an endless supply of money to funed these services.

Maximize Eligibility for Government Benefits

With this in mind, families should plan to maximize eligibility for governmenaboutof what funds are available to your family member– both personally and publicly –how to secure them and how to allocate them. We will be posting a blog about public resources, which we call government factors,  within the next few weeks.

Understand Where You Are and Where You Would Like to Be

In order to maximize your own personal resources, you must first understand where you are financially. Do you have the money to do the things you and your family like to do today? Are you happy where you are financially? If not, what can you do to change things?

The next step is to know where you want to be. What lifestyle do you envision for you and your family, today and in the future? What do you consider retirement – is it when you stop working full time, when you stop working the hours that you currently work, or when you begin to work part time or pursue a hobby for income?  What do you want to do for your vacations, travel time, fun time, and the like?  How philanthropic do you want to be? Where do you envision living when you retire?  In what type of environment do you envision your child living ?  Do you envision him or her living totally independent from you or do you intend to always be involved in the daily activities of your child's life for as long as you are able to?

Create a Plan

The next step is to prepare an action plan to get you where you want to be financially. This is where having qualified advisors to guide you through the planning process can be most beneficial.

The key issue to consider in the financial factors is maximizing personal resources. This includes maximizing tax planning strategies – both income tax and estate tax planning. The proper use of financial products can also be a key factor to financial success. You should also incorporate your group employee benefits in the planning process.  These would include your group health, life and disability insurance coverage,retirement plans, stock option plans, stock purchase plans, flexible spending plans, etc..  Determine those that are currently available to you and your family as well as those available to your family upon your death and /or retirement.  You should also determine which employee benefits are transferable and/or portable upon  termination of your employment.  Adequately protecting your income and assets in the event of a premature death and/or disability of a parent is critical.

Any type of planning process, from planning a vacation to building a house, has a defined beginning and ending point. The traditional financial planning process involves identifying resources and listing specific goals that can be quantified. Some common examples of quantifiable goals might include paying cash for your next automobile, saving for four years of college tuition payments ,purchasing a second home for retirement, or generating a retirement income equal to 65%-75% of your pre-retirement income.

Planning for a family member with disabilities can be a much more challenging process. There is no defined beginning or ending point. Needs and abilities of the individual can change rapidly and will vary significantly over time. It is only natural for the family of a young child to want to have a concrete plan in place that provides adequate assets and resources for their child’s lifetime needs. Families must realize, however, that it may not be possible to predict accurately the long-term costs involved in providing supports for an individual over his/her lifetime.

Assumptions can be made of future expenses. We can fairly accurately determine the costs of a physical residence – a house or a condo – in a geographic area based on current market values. We can also estimate the costs of maintaining the physical residence. Often, however, we cannot always accurately determine the costs of supports until the needs are identified. Once the needs are somewhat identified, we can develop a range of the probable expenses necessary to provide these supports today and in the future. Before implementing a residential plan it is highly recommended that you work with an independent consultant to determine the level of supports required. You then need to develop a model that meets both your personal preferences and your financial abilities to maintain the model, both during your lifetime and upon your death.

So how do we determine how much money is needed? And how much is too much? Just as the educational needs of every child are unique, so are the long-term planning needs of every individual with special needs. Even two individuals with a similar medical and/or cognitive diagnosis, can have significantly different support requirements. With these varying requirements, costs will also vary. There is no clear answer; the bestwe can do is to maximize all resources and coordinate all of the Five Factors.That is why it is so important to have a comprehensive plan and to reevaluate it periodically.

Tags: Special Needs Financial Planning, Special Needs Trusts, financial planning, Retirement Planning, Letter of Intent, special needs Letter of Intent, wealth management, guardianship, Trustee Services, five factors of financial planning

Emotional Factors in Special Needs Financial Planning

Posted by Patricia Manko on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 @ 11:49 AM

Emotional couple resized 600Emotional Obstacles to Planning-People do not plan to fail, they fail to plan. The fact that most people are unfamiliar with many of the financial and legal terms involved in the planning process is not why they fail to plan. Reluctance to plan is often the result of not being able to set aside one’s emotions. It is not uncommon for a parent or caregiver of any age to be reluctant to plan for the ultimate day that they will no longer be able to care for their child. However, by not planning, we miss opportunities to see our children achieve full lives and a connection with their community.

Times of Family Crisis-We do have a choice; we can either be pro-active and plan or be re-active in a time of crisis. In many cases, families begin the planning process in the time of crisis – most often upon the illness or death of a parent or other family member. The problem with this approach is that planning in time of crisis is often based on emotions, and can result in less desirable outcomes. Even if there was a well thought-out plan, it can be tempting to change it in the time of crisis, although many are adivised not to do so a that time.

SNP STORY:
When Dad was first diagnosed with cancer, our entire family was overwhelmed. My brother’s first reaction was to move from his staffed-apartment back home with my mother. It took a great deal of counseling and support from his staff to help him and us to deal with the emotions and the reality that our parents will not be around forever. It would have been awful if he were to move back home at this point and lose all that he has achieved.
-Jimmy’s sister

Having a professional viewpoint to guide you in a time of crisis can often help in the decision making process since he/she will not be emotionally involved.  Most likely such a person will be  abreast of current trends in disability law and planning and can advise you on appropriate options, strategies, or any changes that you should make at this point.

It is important not to plan immediately after you have a personal crisis. In fact, if you already have a plan in place, it is recommended not to make any immediate changes. Unless there is a true emergency that requires immediate attention, or if there are some specific legal and or financial strategies that have to be executed timely, it is recommended to wait between 9 months and 1 year before you make any major lifestyle changes or financial decisions.Allowing yourself to adjust to a new situation will help to remove emotions from the decision- making process.

Emotions as a Catalyst- Emotions are important in helping you to form a vision for your family member. Emotions can drive us to passionate feelings– either positively or negatively. Passionate parents have for many, many years been the ones to make a difference in the quality of life for their children. It is this passion – and the reluctance to accept the “status quo” of the current system - that has made it possible for our family members to become more independent in the community.However, you cannot make long term planning decisions based solely on emotions and passion. You need to first create the vision. Keep in mind that your vision may need to be modified based on the reality of your child’s abilities and the resources available to him/her. Then plan creatively to utilize the resources available to you to achieve your vision.

Your passion can be used to execute a plan of action in the event that the current service delivery system does not support your vision. As long as your vision is substantiated by a well thought out plan, you can change the system. This can take years, or even a lifetime. But if you plan ahead you can achieve your goals.

 Throughout the planning process, you may find that the current system and its accessibility – or rather inaccessibility - to supports are roadblocks to achieving the vision for your child. In many cases these roadblocks can be a result of inefficiencies in the way that services are delivered and how the system functions. If this is the case, you must realize that it is possible to change the way that the current system works. Parents of generations before us have brought the movement to where it is today. Your emotions and your passion will provide the motivation and perseverance to make a difference. Emotions can lead us to move mountains for our children. This is perhaps one of a parent’s greatest assets.

Special Needs Planning Pointer:
We have been fortunate enough to work with families, who over 20 years ago, decided that they wanted their children with mental retardation to live independently in the community with adequate supports. This was at the time when institutions were the common “home” for individuals with mental retardation. It was the passion and dream of these parents who came together to create their own residential home and supports by utilizing their own private resources to pay for the cost of the program. Today this program continues to thrive as their children continue to grow. (For further information see www.specializedhousing.org).


Raising a child with special needs is something most of us never thought about. It changes our perception of the world; and also changes how the world views us. How we perceive our personal situation and the framework from which we view the world changes the way that we feel about everything –especially about money. This viewpoint drives the decisions we make in our lives and in our planning. In the beginning parents may struggle with negative emotions. Anger concerning the situation, guilt and questioning "what went wrong". Over time, it is very likely to grow to a more positive perception as our emotions change and we become more acclimated to the situation. Our views also extend to other family members and their perception of our situation – bringing different challenges and emotions to couples, siblings, relatives, and friends. We eventually will have a different perspective of the world and those around us – sometimes more positive, sometimes not.

Challenges Couples can Face-Sometimes it is difficult for couples to plan together with a shared vision of their child’s abilities and needs. One parent may be more accepting of the child’s diagnosis, while the other parent may be in denial. The results of this emotional disconnect between parents is improper planning – or no planning since they cannot come to an agreement on what is best for their child’s and their family’s needs. In order to reconnect emotionally, couples may need to seek professional counseling.

Special Needs Planning Pointer:
Sometimes it is incredibly difficult to overcome some of the emotional pressures of raising a child with disabilities. It may be necessary to seek professional medical assistance. Do not hesitate to talk to your doctor about your feelings or seek support from other parents. There are all kinds of support groups. Finding one that works for you can ease the isolation and provide opportunities to learn from others. A simple on-line search should help to locate one of these groups in your area.

 For further information about the Five Factors of Special Needs Financial Planning, click here to contact us.

 

 

Tags: Special Needs Financial Planning, five factors of financial planning

Family and Support Factors in Special Needs Financial Planning

Posted by Patricia Manko on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 @ 02:30 PM

family with special needs resized 600Every family situation is unique. Understanding the personal factors of your family and support network will make a difference in how you approach the planning process. Every family has different goals that evolve around the following:

  •  Family and Lifestyle values
  •  Immediate and Extended family involvement – brothers, sisters,  aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends and neighbors
  •  Sibling considerations - ages, involvement, abilities, interests
  •  Careers – one income earner vs. two incomes 

 

Family and Lifestyle Values


Each family’s values of money and desired lifestyle differ. The goals and dreams that you have for your child with special needs may differ from the goals and dreams of other parentsothers in many ways. For example, you may feel that you want your child to live with you throughout your lifetime, or that you may want him/her to be as independent as possible. The determination of your child living at home with you or ultimately moving to an independent living situation, has significant impact on determining your long term financial planning needs.
Some families may plan on relying solely on the government to provide their child’s lifetime needs. This may be because they do not have any additional money to provide for the child and the care that is provided by the government is the most appropriate. If this is the plan, the primary planning focus should be on protecting the child’s eligibility for government benefits such as SSI, SSDI, etc. throughout their lifetime. The secondary planning focus should be to save whatever is possible to provide at least a minimal supplement. Because people are vulnerable to an ever changing political environment, it is important to establish a safety net that goes beyond the baseline of support that is provided by the government.
Even if the family feels that the government is responsible for their child’s care, it does not mean that the government WILL do all that they are socially responsible to do. In fact, it may be that the government will stop paying for services or benefits that your child may currently be receiving such as dental care, prescription drugs, podiatry care, and other services. In fact, recently the government discontinued issuing new funding subsidies for low-income rental housing programs throughout the country. These rental subsidies were a popular tool in providing government resources for individuals with disabilities to pay for their rent. Budgets are voted on every year. This makes legislative advocacy essential to maintain government services and supports.


SNP POINTER:
At the very least, parents should plan to properly leave enough money at their death so that someone could be hired to provide oversight as a guardian or an advocate, while maintaining the child’s eligibility for government benefits. Do not underestimate the time, advocacy and real dollars that you, as a parent, provide. Asking another to assume your role or a portion of it must be accompanied by the financial assistance required to make it possible. It is a lot to ask another child or friend to assume the role of the parent without providing financial assistance or guidance. In fact, unless you leave enough money to make it possible for them to help, they may not be able to do so.
On the other hand, some families feel that they do not want government assistance or interference. They have the financial resources to provide for the lifestyle that they envision for their child without the dependence of government funding. There are a variety of private pay residential models available throughout the country – as well as in-home assistance available to allow your child to continue to live at home with the family. The child may be a very viable member of the daily activities of the family.
Family customs, traditions and values will also guide you in the planning process. If you have family members close by and everyone takes care of one another, or you live in a multi-family house or community with others to share the care taking, you may not have a vision of your child living separately and would not plan for that. How your family celebrates holidays and birthdays may be a very important issue to consider. Continuing with family traditions – birthday cakes, Christmas or Hanukah presents, special foods and other customs may be important to you. Attending religious services and who will bring your child is often a consideration. Making certain that travel arrangements can be made and afforded for siblings or relatives to be together on holiday’s means a lot to some families. With families often living in different cities, it may be necessary to hire a staff person to travel with the child to visit his/her brother or sister for the holidays. Alternately, a sibling may not be able to afford the expenses of traveling to come home for the holidays. Providing for these supplemental expenses may make a significant difference in allowing your family to stay together for special occasions. Your family values and traditions will be able to continue as best as possible if provided for in your planning.


SNP STORY:
In our family tradition, you do not leave home until you are married. My sister Diane has Down syndrome. She has no plans of getting married so she still lives at home. She is able to help our elderly mother with the household chores and is the primary reason why my mother can still be at home. They help each other. At this point, we haven’t even talked about any plans for when my mother passes on and where Diane will live. --Diane’s sister


The Extended Family


In the event that there are no immediate family members available, a network of close friends can help provide support. Having close family and friends is very important in cases where you need additional assistance to cover in the event of emergencies. Having a close network of friends and neighbors can be a valuable resource in the event of an emergency. In the event that there is limited family, this not only impacts the emotional needs, but the financial needs of having to pay for supports.


SNP STORY:
We do not have any family in this country. If it were not for the kindness of a few special teachers and friends who have become a part of our son’s life, our daughter would be totally alone in caring for her brother. These special people are with us for holidays and birthdays and have become such an important part of our family. Now we share their children as our own extended family. -- David’s mother
If you have no close friends or family involved in the day to day activities of your life, it is very important to document the wants, needs, likes and dislikes as well as your vision for your child. Without something in writing, it burdens a potential future caretaker with learning the system that you took so long to learn. In addition, it puts your child at a great disadvantage and potentially can set him/her back in years of their development. This is why the Letter of Intent is such an important tool to use.


SNP POINTER:
Parents should make a point to complete the Letter of Intent (see separate chapter) to document the important aspects of your child’s life. Share it with the future caretakers today and make it a living document. Don’t just leave it for others to figure out after you are gone.


Siblings


It may be difficult to talk about the time when mom or dad will not be around to care for their child. Some children may not want to be involved with the future caretaking responsibilities of their brother or sister. Others are more than willing to do so in some capacity or another. Sometimes the roles of guardian, trustee, or social director are defined by the nature of the family relationship. And then sometimes a brother or sister wants to just be a brother or sister. It is critical that parents communicate their vision and their expectations to all of their children before they die or before the siblings are required to assume this role.
If there are adult children who have expressed an interest in helping, it is important to get them involved in the planning process early on. Try to include them in service planning meetings, house meetings, meetings with your financial planner and attorney, social activities, and any other aspects that involve your child with special needs. The more involved everyone is, the more comfortable they become – including service providers in knowing who to contact in the absence of mom or dad.
If a brother or sister is not able or willing to be the future caretaker, it is very important to allow them to express their feelings and intents about their future role. Sometimes parents hope that all children will work together for the best interests of one another – and put the needs and interests of the special needs child first. The reality is not always so. Parents should not just assume that the other children will fulfill their expectations. They may need to reach out to professionals who have the expertise, time and abilities to provide for your child’s future care.
There are a number of organizations that have services established to provide for these needs. See PLAN, Inc. – Planned Lifetime Assistance Network (www.nami.org), PALS, Inc. (www.palsinc.org) and others locally. There are other sibling support groups for both young and adult siblings. See information and workshops for sibling support groups at The Arc’s Sibling Support Project and Sibshops at www.thearc.org.


SNP STORY:
My 44 year old brother was living at home with my aging parents. Their plan was that he would continue to live in the family house or live with me when my parents died. Until I attended an adult sibling support group, I never knew that there were options available to us. I became involved as his advocate and served on our local Citizen Advisory Board for the Department of Mental Retardation and local Arc. With the information that I learned, I was able to help my parents and my brother to move forward in planning for his future today while my parents are still alive. He is now living in a supported apartment in town enjoying his independence while my parents are proudly seeing his abilities soar. We are all in a much better position to support his future needs. --–Ron’sJoe’s sister


Careers


In addition to viewing the family as the potential source of supports, there may also be financial responsibilities associated with families. Initially, planning needs for more than one child may require financial compromises. One of the issues facing our families is that in many cases households have only one spouse in the workforce while the second spouse is required to care for an individual with a disability. Careers may have to be put on hold. Loss of earnings, a reduction in disposable income, and loss of retirement savings can also occur. In many traditional situations, the family has the option to choose between being a two income household or having one parent be the single wage earner. In cases where families have a child with disabilities, there may be no choice. One parent may have to stay at home either full time or part time.


SNP STORY:
When our son was age one, he developed a significant seizure disorder. Ordinary activities of daily living, even as basic as mea times, became a major challenge for our whole family. We tried to get help from various government agencies for personal care attendants. But after the appeal process to Medicaid, the arbitrator’s determination was “the parent was the best suited caregiver”. Because of this decision and the inability to secure the additional supports that were needed for our family, my wife was forced to sell her business that she built to stay home with our son as his primary caregiver. We had no choice. -- Jason’s Father

Tags: Special Needs Financial Planning, five factors of financial planning

The Five Factors of Special Needs Financial Planning

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 @ 02:53 PM

five actors of special needs planningOne of the major obstacles that can prevent  families from planning is that they are frequently consumed by daily crises. The thought of planning ahead can simply be overwhelming. Realizing that each family situation is unique, we have identified the Five Factors that must be considered in conjunction with special needs planning.

These core planning points are by no means an exhaustive list of planning points. They will provide a baseline of what should be considered in special needs planning for every stage. Think of them as the basics you need to consider regardless of the age of your family member. They should, of course, be reexamined from time to time to be certain the recommendations stay current with your own family's needs.


FAMILY & SUPPORT FACTORS:

  • Ask the people whom you want involved with your family member's life whether or not they want to be involved before you just name them in your plan. 
  • Help prepare future guardians, caretakers, trustees and successors for their roles.
  • Complete a Letter of Intent -click here to download a sample letter of intent.
  • When grandparents or other friends or relatives offer to help by including your child in their gift or estate plans, say THANK YOU. 
  • Encourage them to have their advisors speak with your advisors who specialize in disability planning. 
  • Be connected with family support agencies in your area.

EMOTIONAL FACTORS:

  • Help your other children to meet and talk with children similar in age who also have a sibling with disabilities.
  • Seek professional help when you need it.
  • Be patient with yourself, your spouse and your family.
  • Learn as much as you can about your child's diagnosis and abilities.

FINANCIAL FACTORS:

  • Review your current financial plan -as often as possible.
  • Work with a professional who is knowledgeable in disability planning. Click here to view our checklist for interviewing a financial planner. 
  • Protect your family with adequate life insurance, long-term disability insurance, and long-term care insurance coverage for primary caregivers.
  • Identify all employee benefits for which you are eligible.
  • Do not establish a savings or investment account in your child's name.


LEGAL FACTORS:

  • Review your current estate plan -at least every five years. 
  • Create a Special Needs Trust
  • Name a guardian for your child or children in the event of your premature death or disability.
  • Check beneficiary designations on all life insurance, retirement plan accounts and annuities. These include employer benefit plans too.


GOVERNMENT BENEFIT FACTORS:

  • Advocate for your child. Join forces with your state & local advocacy agencies.
  • Know and pursue your child's legal rights and entitlements.
  • Maintain eligibility for your child's government benefits at all times, even if they are not currently receiving them.
  • Apply for Social Security Survivor's benefits promptly when a parent of a child with a disability dies.
special_ needs_financial_ planningFor further information about the Five Factors of Special Needs Financial Planning, click here to contact us.

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