Special Needs Money Management Tips for 2015
Friday, January 2nd, 2015
Welcome to our blog, and Happy New Year!
Like virtually everyone else in the world, the staff of M&L rang in the New Year with a list of resolutions for 2015. This year, one of our professional resolutions is to renew our commitment to using our blog as an educational tool and special needs resource. As financial and life planners, we know that information is the most important factor to the success of any decision. We pride ourselves on being able to provide that information.
Considering that the most common new year resolutions are related to personal finances, we would like to honor our own resolution by talking a little bit about to manage your money in 2015. Please join us!
Special Needs Finances – A Unique Set of Challenges
Raising a family with special needs comes with the same challenges that face every family in today’s world, as well as the unique challenges that come with raising a child with special needs. In fact a recent article in Disability Scoop – which focuses on the disability caregiver pay hike recently approved by Washington – is one example of a type of unique financial challenge facing special needs families. Although undoubtedly beneficial for those who work in this field, this pay hike now means that families who rely on these workers may have to save more, and spend more, to ensure that their family members with disabilities are receiving the supports they need and deserve.
Faced with these kinds of future financial demands, many of our clients want to know how they can effectively save and manage their money so as to be able to ensure financial stability long term. The following tools and tips can help you successfully save for the future of your family with special needs.
Tip 1: The Able Act
The ABLE Act, which was very recently signed into law by President Obama, is an exciting new financial tool for individuals and families with special needs. Modeled after the 529 college savings accounts, the ABLE Act will allow individuals with disabilities that occurred before the age of 26 to create tax-free savings accounts. All interest accrued on the funds in these accounts will remain tax free, as long as they are used for qualifying expenses such as education, housing, transportation, and healthcare expenses.
The most important aspect of the ABLE Act is this: funds in the ABLE account will not be counted against people with disabilities in eligibility determinations for Medicaid or Social Security Disability Insurance. As the current resource limit for these government benefits is $2000, the ABLE act opens many opportunities for individuals to effectively save for their futures without jeopardizing future income.
If you would like to learn more about the ABLE act, please click here to access our blog archive on the subject, or here to register for a workshop will include a section on the ABLE Act, and how it fits into your special needs financial plan.
Tip 2: The Special Needs Trust
The Special Needs Trust (SNT) is another excellent financial tool for individuals with special needs. The SNT is established by putting funds and other assets under the control of a trustee – through the SNT, a beneficiary can receive the benefit of unlimited income without sacrificing government benefits.
It is important to note, however, that the effectiveness of your SNT is dependent on whether or not it is established correctly. A trust that has been established without regard for the eligibility laws may disqualify a person with disabilities from government benefits. Please be sure to consult with an attorney who has experience with special needs before creating one.
Tip 3: Complete you Comprehensive Special Needs Financial Life Plan
Here at M&L, we understand (perhaps better than anyone) that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to special needs finances. Every family has their own set of unique circumstances, goals, challenges, resources, etc. That is why we developed the Comprehensive Special Needs Financial Life Plan – this plan takes a look at the family as a whole (with an emphasis on the individual with special needs) and identifies and prioritizes assets and resources, and goals and objectives for two generations.
This information is used to identify a plan of action that will outline steps to maximize and protect personal and public resources. Throughout this process we also evaluate and analyze the need for college education planning, retirement, investment strategies, life insurance, disability and long-term care insurance, and concerns with tax and estate planning. At the end of the process, you and your family have a blueprint to follow to ensure that you meet all your goals and achieve financial stability. This plan is reviewed and updated annually to incorporate any changes with family dynamics, state/federal benefits, and to identify any additional resources necessary to continue to uphold the quality of life necessary for an individual with special needs.
Would You Like More Information?
Once again, thank you for taking the time to drop by our blog today! We hope that it was informative, and you were able to take away some valuable tips for managing your money in the new year. If you would like more information on how to manage your money and financially plan for the future of your family, please take a moment to browse the resource section of our website, or scan through archived blog posts. We make a point to consistently add information that is valuable to the special needs community. To inquire about our services or to make an appointment, please contact us – we would love to hear from you! See you next week!
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