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Financial Planning for Families with Special Needs

It is never too early or too late to start the financial planning process when you have a child with special needs. A strategic financial plan utilizing our uncommon approach can help ensure your family is protected in unforeseen circumstances.

The following timeline outlines the importance of planning and revising your plan every 3-5 years and every time your circumstances change. If you have questions about any of the stages or would like to schedule a consultation, call 212-701-7999 or use the contact form below.

The Families with Special Needs Financial Planning Timeline

Planning for Infants

Congratulations! You are beginning a new journey and will have a different set of challenges. At this stage of the timeline, our financial advisors work closely with you to maintain a balance in the overall plan to include the needs for children as well as your own personal and financial needs. This is also an important time to determine the amount of life insurance needed in the event of a premature death of a caregiver.

Planning for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Say hello to public school. This stage will be a time of growth and change for both you and your child. Our financial advisors will work with you to ensure that your budget includes out of pocket expenses for medical therapies, babysitters, advocates, legal and financial services and other unexpected expenses. We will also work with you to develop a timeline that includes reviewing current financial and estate plans every 3 to 5 years, as well as every time your situation changes.

Planning for Teens

It’s time for a major transition. During this life stage, you will notice a shift from supporting your child in school to helping him or her achieve their greatest level of independence. Our financial advisors can work with you to help prepare your child to financially qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Medicaid eligibility. This means that assets in his or her name or custodial accounts will need to be less than the asset limits set forth by each State. We will also assess your overall financial situation to help determine your ability to achieve your financial goals – including college funding for other children in the family, your financial requirements to fund your child’s supplemental needs, and your own retirement goals, which come first. This is also a good time to review estate planning documents to be mindful of your estate tax planning considerations, ownership and beneficiary designations of assets, retirement plans, and life insurance policies.

Planning for Young Adults

Now that your child is legally no longer a child, at this life stage the doors to Federal government benefits are now open. While you are not required to utilize government benefits, maximizing your eligibility for them should be a consideration when developing your overall financial plan. Prior to applying for benefits, it is possible to spend down the assets or transfer them to a Special Needs Trust or Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account. A Special Needs Trust also known as a Supplemental Needs Trust, allows the disabled beneficiary to enjoy the use of property that is held in the trust for his or her benefit while still allowing the beneficiary to receive essential needs-based government benefits. An ABLE account is not tax deductible, but it allows all investment earnings to remain untaxed as long as money taken from the account is for qualified disability expenses.

Planning for Age 22

Now that your child is out of school, at this life stage many of his or her supports go away. Our financial advisors will work with you to ensure that your financial plans include the needs of your dependent, as well as your own personal and financial needs. We will also work with you to determine an adequate amount of life insurance needed in the event of a premature death of a caregiver, and also review your financial and estate plans.

Planning for Age 22 and Beyond

This stage is a time to plan a good and full life, and it will be very important to openly discuss what services you can afford to provide and what services you will require assistance from the government to maintain the best quality of life for your child. What are the housing options? Who will provide continued supports? Where will the money come from? Our financial advisors will work with you to help you maintain a balance in your overall financial plan that includes the needs of your children, as well as your personal and financial needs. At this life stage, we will again review life insurance needs and products.

Planning for a Parent’s Retirement

Planning for two generations is not easy, especially when you are moving from a ‘You At Work’ strategy to ‘Money at Work’ strategy. Our financial advisors will work with you to develop a plan that meets your personal needs, the needs of your dependent with special needs, and all of your family members. We can help you determine the most appropriate strategy to withdraw money from your savings and investment accounts. We can help you analyze the possibility of locking in low interest rates and using equity to plan for your child. We can also analyze the pros and cons of deferring your social security payments, and make provisions to protect your assets in the event you need long term care assistance.

Planning for a Parent’s Death

At this life stage, it is important to have the hard conversations with your family members. An achievable financial plan has estate planning documents that meet all of the requirements and a strategic life plan that goes beyond the legal documents by taking into consideration legal requirements, government benefits, family and support network, financial ability, and emotional needs. Our financial advisors will work with you to review ownership of your assets, including savings bonds, as well as consideration of a special needs trust as a vehicle for leaving an inheritance to a child with special needs without disqualifying for government benefits.

It is never too early or late to start planning, especially if you have a child with special needs. If you are at any of the stages listed above, schedule a consultation with one of our Financial Advisors to help protect your family from hardships in unforeseen circumstances. We will work with you to develop a customized plan using our uncommon approach that considers your financial planning needs for all of the generations alive today.

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