Don’t have time to create a financial strategy for your family? Afraid of all the work involved? Do you simply not know where to begin? Here’s what it takes to get it done.
Begin with the help of others
At times, each of us feels overwhelmed by something – a decision that must be made, a task that must be completed, or simply life in general. Caring for a family member with special needs can be daunting. You might feel like you’re sinking in a large body of water with nothing to cling to. A planning team can be like buddies who jump into the water with you. They’ll take on one issue at a time, discussing it until it becomes a little island, a little something to hold onto. Next they’ll jump in the water again and take on another issue until it, too, becomes an island, then another until all the islands come together as one large body of land.
Your financial team
When it comes to creating a financial strategy, you aren’t alone, as the analogy above illustrates. While bankers, accountants, even social services representatives may help, three players are key:
- You (and perhaps your spouse or other family members),
- A financial professional trained in special needs planning, such as a Special Care Planner and
- An attorney who has experience in serving people with special needs.
So, who does what?
Your role is to look carefully and honestly at your financial picture. What’s it like now, and what would you like to see change? What are the current needs of your family member who has special needs? What will that person’s future be? Be ready to pull together all your financial information. Be willing to evaluate your situation and to consider suggested options. And be ready to answer some tough questions.
Chartered Special Needs Consultants (ChSNC)
Holders of the Chartered Special Needs Consultant (ChSNC) designation have received advanced training and information in estate and tax planning concepts, special needs trusts, government programs, and the emotional dynamics of working with people with disabilities and other special needs. They also have connections within the community to relevant organizations and experts and can help you develop a step-by-step Life Care Plan with short- and long-term strategies.
Certain elements of your financial strategy will probably require an attorney’s expertise. Attorneys help set up such legal instruments as guardianships, trusts, wills and powers of attorney (medical or financial). Such instruments should be structured so they work in conjunction with the overall financial strategy.
An experienced professional will review your financial situation and get to know your lifestyle, dreams, goals, and needs. This information is the basis for creating a financial strategy, alerting you of precautions to take, and recommending available options. The next step might be a meeting to discuss financial details, review statements, policies, and other paperwork, and begin making recommendations for the strategy. You may decide you’d like to complete a letter of intent for your child - a document that details personal, medical, and social information so another person can step in at any time to provide care. The process will vary for each family; a good advisor doesn't simply meet with a client and drop them into Plan A, B, or C. And in fact, the strategy is never really complete because as life changes, so might your strategy. It’s a work in progress.
It’s worth taking the time to plan
We seem to lead our lives full steam ahead, sometimes pushed along by life events, sometimes by the choices we make. Days never seem long enough to get everything done. Making time to create your financial strategy will help provide a sense of accomplishment, relief, and reassurance that one of the important things has been put in place. You may feel a little less stressful, a little more peaceful, with a strong footing beneath you.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal or estate planning advice as individual situations will vary. Neither Royal Alliance Associates, Inc., nor its registered representatives or employees, offer tax or legal advice. As with all matters of a tax or legal nature, you should consult with your tax or legal counsel for advice.
Securities and investment advisory services offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. (RAA) member FINRA/SIPC. RAA is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products or services referenced here are independent of RAA. Special needs consulting services are offered through Special Needs Hawaii and not through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc.