Can you believe it’s 2021? As we leave 2020 behind, I am reminded of the many challenges that we all faced. We all were affected—some more than others. We started the year with a tornado, then a pandemic (which we are still dealing with), next were protests, riots, and civil unrest, and it was also an election year, which had its own share of turmoil. Some faced furloughs, job losses, pay cuts, working from home, homeschooling, quarantines, illnesses and even deaths of family or friends.
Those of you caring for family members with special needs are used to challenges, but 2020 was even more challenging than normal. Many of you approach life “one day at a time,” and this is especially true of families caring for someone with special needs.
I understand that approach, but you must also develop a plan, especially for your financial lives. Whether you realize it or not you already have a plan in place by default, and I can tell you, in my opinion, that it is not what you would probably choose for yourself or your family.
When you are caring for someone with special needs, a financial plan becomes even more important. The mistake of not having a plan—or mistakes made within a poorly designed plan—can be very costly in the future and may be difficult to correct, if they can even be corrected at all.
Some things cannot be undone. Therefore, you should work with a professional who specializes in working with families with special needs, someone who understands the unique aspects of taxes, estate planning, and multi-generational financial planning for families with special needs. A financial planner with expertise in special needs should be able to seamlessly work with not only your family, but also coordinate with your tax professional, estate planning attorney, and other family members, much like the coach of a team. After all, it is a team effort.
Why Is Planning Important?
Why is this so important? As I just mentioned, the two main reasons are to avoid the default plan that the government has in place for you and to avoid mistakes. A plan enables you to take control and make the decisions.
It can seem overwhelming trying to think of all the scenarios and what mistakes to avoid. As the old saying goes, “You just don’t know what you don’t know.” How do you qualify and stay qualified for benefits such as SSI, SSDI, Medicare or Medicaid, Medicaid waivers, Vocational training, and housing? Who will care for your loved one if something happens to you? How do you leave assets to a family member without mistakenly affecting any benefits they are receiving? What tax deductions are you eligible for? What should your estate plan look like and what options are there?
This can be an overwhelming task. You need a professional to help guide you through the process initially and then to review the plan on an ongoing basis—because we know that circumstances change.
What’s to Come?
In future blogs, I will go into more detail on some of the special needs planning topics that I have briefly mentioned here, as well as other topics in the special needs community.
For More Information.
In the meantime, if you would like more information on what we do or would like to set up a free initial consultation, please reach out to me by email at email@example.com or call the office at 615-851-1950.
By Chad Henson, CFP®, CRPC®, ChSNC® (Chartered Special Needs Consultant)
Paul Winkler, Inc.
Creating Confident Investors™