Best Valentine's Day Gift Ever

Posted by Patty Manko on Sat, Feb 13, 2016 @ 08:00 AM

Free_clip_art_letter_of_intent.png

In honor of Valentine's Day, consider completing A Letter of Intent (LOI) as an act of love for your child, as well as their future caretakers and brothers and sisters. 

The most important asset your child has is YOU.  No matter who you have entrusted to care for your child when you are gone—sibling, friend, relative, trustee, guardian, or organization—you can help guide that person by providing them the knowledge that only you, as a parent, possess. The Letter of Intent is not a legally binding document, but it is still perhaps one of the most important documents you can prepare for the future well-being of your child. This is an opportunity to leave a legacy of all that you have accomplished with your child.

The Letter of Intent (LOI) has long been utilized as a tool to guide guardians, trustees, siblings and others to care for your dependent child when you, as parents, are unable to do so. In many cases, it contains detailed information that only a parent would know about their child’s history and personal preferences. In every case, it is a document that views the child’s life today and in the future through the eyes of his or her parents or guardians.

The actual composition of the LOI requires gathering and recording the people, places and services relating to your child. It also involves sorting out one’s feelings and defining expectations when thinking about the future for your child with special needs. Every child is unique and this document will be unique: it should be flexible, clear and personal.

Asking the Right Questions
The art of successful planning involves knowing the right questions to ask, not just working with data. Since developing the Five Factors of comprehensive special needs planning, we have organized the content of our LOI based upon these key elements in planning for your child’s future. Many families need a catalyst to encourage them to begin the planning process. An LOI can act as this catalyst by asking thought provoking questions. The LOI and your overall plan needs to be periodically reviewed and revised and it is important to provide your child’s future caregiver with an updated copy.

Financing Your Vision
Although completing an LOI is a crucial step in assuring the care and wellbeing of your child should you die, this document may also serve a very important function while you are alive. The LOI may be used as a basis for financial planning to achieve your vision for your child today.

Download our fillable Letter of Intent by clicking on the image below.

The Letter of intent

 

Tags: Letter of Intent

The Letter of Intent : Plan for the Future Today

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Aug 07, 2014 @ 04:12 PM

01 writing a letter resized 600The Letter of Intent (LOI) has long been utilized as a tool to guide guardians, trustees, siblings and others to care for your dependent child when you, as parents, are unable to do so. In many cases, it contains detailed information that only a parent would know about their child’s history and personal preferences. In every case, it is a document that views the child’s life today and in the future through the eyes of his or her parents or guardians.

The actual composition of the LOI requires gathering and recording the people, places and services relating to your child. It also involves sorting out one’s feelings and defining expectations when thinking about the future for your child with spe- cial needs. Every child is unique and this document will be unique: it should be flexible, clear and personal.

Asking the Right Questions
The art of successful planning involves knowing the right questions to ask, not just working with data. Since developing the Five Factors of comprehensive special needs planning, we have organized the content of our LOI based upon these key elements in planning for your child’s future. Many families need a catalyst to en- courage them to begin the planning process. An LOI can act as this catalyst by ask- ing thought provoking questions. The LOI and your overall plan needs to be peri- odically reviewed and revised and it is important to provide your child’s future caregiver with an updated copy.

Financing Your Vision
Although completing an LOI is a crucial step in assuring the care and wellbeing of your child should you die, this document may also serve a very important function while you are alive. The LOI may be used as a basis for financial planning to achieve your vision for your child today.

Download a letter of intent by clicking on the image below.

Download a template for your Letter of Intent

Tags: Letter of Intent

Using the Letter of Intent to Plan for Your Child Today

Posted by Patty Manko on Thu, Oct 24, 2013 @ 05:15 PM

describe the imageFinancing Your Vision for Your Child: Using the Letter of Intent to Plan for the Future Today

The Letter of Intent (LOI) has long been utilized as a tool to guide guardians, trustees, siblings and others to care for your dependent child when you, as parents, are unable to do so. In many cases, it contains detailed information that only a parent would know about their child’s history and personal preferences. In every case, it is a document that views the child’s life today and in the future through the eyes of his or her parents or guardians.

The actual composition of the LOI requires gathering and recording the people, places and services relating to your child. It also involves sorting out one’s feelings and defining expectations when thinking about the future for your child with spe- cial needs. Every child is unique and this document will be unique: it should be flexible, clear and personal.

Asking the Right Questions
The art of successful planning involves knowing the right questions to ask, not just working with data. Since developing the Five Factors of comprehensive special needs planning, we have organized the content of our LOI based upon these key
elements in planning for your child’s future. Many families need a catalyst to en- courage them to begin the planning process. An LOI can act as this catalyst by ask- ing thought provoking questions. The LOI and your overall plan needs to be peri- odically reviewed and revised and it is important to provide your child’s future caregiver with an updated copy.

Financing Your Vision
Although completing an LOI is a crucial step in assuring the care and wellbeing of your child should you die, this document may also serve a very important function while you are alive. The LOI may be used as a basis for financial planning to achieve your vision for your child today.

Download a letter of intent by clicking on the image below.

 Receive a comprehensive  template for your  Letter of Intent

 

Tags: Special Needs Financial Planning, Letter of Intent

Financial Q & A: Special Needs Trust

Posted by Patty Manko on Tue, Aug 06, 2013 @ 05:36 PM

family in field illus resized 600The establishment of a special needs trust can provide a false sense of security that you are all set. 

The money that funds the trust will secure the resources for your loved one to be cared for.

What is a special needs trust?

A Special Needs Trust (SNT) is a legal document and a very important part of your child's long-term financial plan.

The trust may be used to hold money:

  • that you save
  • that others give your child as gifts
  • that you receive from an insurance settlement

Funds in the SNT will not interfere with your child's eligibility for federal benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Who are the parties involved?

The individual who funds the trust is the Donor. The individual who benefits from the trust is the Beneficiary. The individual who oversees the trust is the Trustee

When should families fund the SNT ?

 In most circumstances the SNT is funded at the death of the parent(s) or primary care giver, rather than during their lifetime. The term used for a trust that is funded at the death of an individual is a Testamentary Trust.

Reasons for not funding the trust during a donor’s lifetime include:

  •  Once a trust is funded, the money can only be used to meet the  beneficiary’s supplemental needs. 
  •  A separate tax return must be filed.
  •  Taxes on any earnings must be paid by the trust. Income earned in  the trust is usually taxed at a higher tax rate than an individual rate.
  •  Once a trust is funded, it becomes irrevocable. This prevents you  from making any changes to the terms of the trust.
  •  Overall, there is no flexibility in your plan.

Although funding the trust may reduce flexibility, the following are some of the reasons why one may consider funding a SNT during the lifetime of the donor as a planning strategy:

  •  If an individual has more than enough money to meet his/her  personal needs and will not jeopardize their personal financial  security.
  •  Provides the donor with the comfort of knowing that there will be a  certain amount of money available for the beneficiary.
  •  Parents who have taxable estates and are implementing strategies to  reduce their estate tax liability.
  •  Grandparents or others are trying to reduce their taxable estate by  gifting to your child – the SNT protects the child’s eligibility for  government benefits.
  •  Money in the trust can provide some protection from creditors. 
  •  Money directly received by the child either through an inheritance  and/or a legal settlement which would otherwise disqualify them for  benefits. This would be a “payback” SNT.

Regardless of the timing decision for funding the trust, it is important to do whatever you can to makes sure there will be adequate money in the trust to provide for your child’s security. There are two steps:

  •  identify what the anticipated needs will be
  •  assess what steps you can realistically take to provide what is  necessary in light of your other financial requirements and goals.

How to be sure you are all set: 

Review this checklist carefully. It is very important! If you have any questions, please feel free to email Cynthia and John.

1. What is my vision of the legacy which I wish to leave my child (or other family member) with special needs?

 2. Have I established proper Wills & Trusts that transform my clear vision into an absolute future reality?
 
 3. Does my Executor/trix or Guardian have a Letter of Intent which outlines my wishes for the future care of this person?
4. Will this Letter of Intent be passed to others who may eventually care for my child, should s/he out-live my second caregiver?
 

5. Is the Trust endowed with enough money to assure that distributions will not consume their principal throughout the beneficiary's lifetime?

6. Have I insured that caregiving survivors are financially protected from the future expenses in the care of my loved one with special needs?
 
 So...are you all set? If you answered "No" to any question, your plan is not complete. We encourage you to seek the answers to all these questions.

Contact us

Tags: Special Needs Financial Planning, Special Needs Trusts, Letter of Intent, Life Insurance

The Letter of Intent and Your Child

Posted by Patricia Manko on Thu, Jun 20, 2013 @ 03:42 PM

guardianshipThe most important asset your child has is YOU.

Think for a moment about the specific instructions or guidelines you give to your child or his or her caregiver when you leave for just an evening out or a weekend away.Imagine if you never came back. 

Many families need a catalyst to encourage them to begin the planning process. A Letter of Intent simplifies the planning process by initially asking basic biographic information and progresses to more thoughtful and provoking questions. Since developing the Five Factors of comprehensive special needs planning, we have reorganized the content based upon these key elements in planning for your child’s future. By completing a Letter of Intent for your family member, you will begin to develop goals and objectives to assist you in the overall planning process. Ultimately, it will provide the details required for future caregivers to fulfill their expected roles based upon your desires and concerns.

No matter who you have entrusted to care for your child when you are gone—sibling, friend, relative, trustee, guardian, or organization—you can help guide that person by providing them the knowledge that only you, as a parent, possess. This is not a legally binding document, but it is still perhaps one of the most important documents you can prepare for the future well-being of your child. This is an opportunity to leave a legacy of all that you have accomplished with your child.

You need to periodically review and revise this Letter of Intent, perhaps on your child’s birthday, making certain to provide your child’s future caregiver with an updated copy. As every child is unique, so should this document be unique. Feel free to expand where needed and omit areas that are not applicable. Be flexible, be clear, and feel free to make it as personal as you wish.

To download a blank sample Letter of Intent, click on the image below.

describe the image

Tags: Special Needs Financial Planning, Letter of Intent, special needs Letter of Intent, guardianship, Trustee Services

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

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.

Tags: Special Needs Trusts, Letter of Intent, Special Needs Financial Planning, special needs Letter of Intent, guardianship, five factors of financial planning

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