Article Written on M&L Special Needs Planning & Maedi Tanham Carney CFP®, CWIC
April 8th, 2013
We recently had the pleasure of interviewing certified financial planner Maedi Tanham Carney regarding her business and website dedicated to financial planning for special needs. Ms. Carney has been certified as a financial planner since 1992 and has a background in commercial real estate and finance, having earned her degree from the University of Denver in Colorado. Her company, M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC is named after her two daughters, Emily and Ellie.
Just a brief review of her website will reveal the many resources she has put together in her efforts to support and assist families who are trying to create a special needs financial life plan. Among these resources are several workshops of which, we wanted to highlight just a couple, to give you an idea of the kinds of materials she has put together for families with special needs.
“Navigating the Financial World of the Family with Special Needs” is designed as a complete overview of the life journey for the family with special needs. It was developed to examine the unique process of providing and planning for the individual with special needs and the entire family. In the presentation, it is discussed how completing a comprehensive special need financial life plan will enable the family to be proactive in providing for the entire family’s financial future.
“Understanding SSI/Medicaid & SSDI/Medicare” revolves around understanding various government benefit programs such as SSI/Medicaid and SSDI/Medicare. Ms. Carney is certified as a Certified Work Incentive Coordinator (CWIC) which means she completed a 4 day intensive training and examination/analysis process of these government benefit programs. A CWIC is trained in benefit counseling to help families learn how to qualify and receive these valuable benefits for their family member with special needs.
Maedi works tirelessly to help families develop a long term life plan that includes planning for two generations; allocating funds for the parents (retirement, investments, home purchase planning, insurance etc), sibling’s educational and other needs, and providing for the child with special needs entire life. She does this by creating a visual representation of the family’s assets, resources, and net worth and helps them to calculate what deficiencies they might have so she can assist in developing a game plan to address those deficiencies.
She also helps families to identify any supplemental expenses that may be needed for their child with special needs in the future. This allows for a life plan that enables their children to live independently or with the required assistance and supports identified. These types of supplemental expenses might include things such as the cost of an independent living program, therapies, transportation, special diets, additional supports etc. Her comprehensive approach walks parents through this discovery process to create a life plan that is specific to their needs.
She suggests that parents take care of the legal and financial aspects of planning simultaneously. However, sometimes it is important to focus on the legal first, such as the creation of the special needs trust, a revocable trust, a will, a durable power of attorney for financial and medical, advanced health directives and the HIPPA form. In addition, a serious look at their life insurance requirements is an absolutely essential element in developing a meaningful plan for a family. Lastly, the parents must complete a beneficiary review making sure assets are not left directly to the individual with special needs but to their special needs trust in order to not disqualify the child from government benefits.
Maedi also discussed the importance of creating the Letter of Intent for your child with special needs. This morally binding document communicates your desires and concerns for your special needs child to future (or current) caregiver(s). It includes what a will or trust cannot – the intangibles which are the parent’s wishes/vision for their child with special needs future. Essentially if something happens to the primary caregivers, this document is used for the future caregiver to step directly into the parent’s shoes.
When asked for her feedback on the unique challenges of the divorced parents of a child with special needs, she affirmed how critically important it is that continued communication between the estranged parents occurs to ensure their child with disabilities maintains access to much needed government benefit programs. A lack of communication between divorced parents could put their child in the precarious position where they lose their benefits at the worst possible time – upon the death of one or both of their parents.
Maedi Tanham Carney’s website www.specialneedsplanning.net is a treasure trove of useful and practical information and resources and I highly recommend you take some time to visit.
Written by Keith Caldwell of Failure to Plan and edited by M&L Special Needs Planning, LLC.
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