Advisor Today - September/October 2015 - (Page 57)

FiNaNcial plaNNiNg PLANNING By Patrick MacGrath Special-Needs Planning The helpful hints outlined in this article will help you hold better conversations with your special-needs clients. I n the United States, one in six children has a developmental disability (Centers for Disease Control). With nearly 20 percent of the population coping with a disability, developing financial plans for this group has become an increasing concern for many families. Ensuring individuals with disabilities are financially secure and independent, particularly as they reach adulthood, can be overwhelming. They often need to rely on their families to help provide financial and emotional support. Fortunately, there are many resources and tactics available to assist these individuals and their families. As financial professionals, we have the opportunity to be resources and guides for these individuals. From my experience as an advisor who focuses on special-needs cases, I've found the most important aspect is asking the right questions and overcoming the emotional dynamics. For example, it's important to focus conversations with them on goals and values rather than on assets and money. Learn what keeps the family up at night and do a lot more listening than you usually do. You'll get 100 different answers when you ask them, "What does special needs financial planning mean to you?" I use the acronym PROMISE to help focus conversations and guide other advisors. PROMISE means: P - Prepare the vision R - Review your government options O - Open the door M - Money in motion I - Interpret your legal options S - Support organizations and advocacy programs E - Execute and evaluate your plan Be sure to work with an attorney who is experienced with special-needs and elder-care law. 1. Prepare the vision. By preparing a vision, the conversation focuses on what the family and the special-needs individual want for the future. Ask questions about what the parents want their future to look like, what they value and what they want for their child after they are no longer able to care for him. Involving all of the key parties in the conversation is extremely important. Be sure to include the dependent in the conversation, as well as siblings or guardians. 2. Review your government options. You need to understand the government options available to individuals with special needs and how these will be incorporated into a larger plan. Government programs are available at the federal, state and local levels. However, many factors can affect eligibility for coverage, and the application process may be complex. Will the individual work? How will that affect his SSI benefit? What types of medical care coverage are available to him? These are just some of the questions that need to be addressed. With individuals living longer, many government resources are under stress; so you need to understand all of the options available to your clients. 3. Open the door. The conversation needs to address the special-needs individual's life and what a caregiver will need to know. I call this "opening the door" because it involves accessing the knowledge the parents have about their child. We discuss topics such as idiosyncrasies, likes and dislikes, and tactics that have been beneficial to the care of their dependent throughout the years. cont'd on page 58 September/October 2015 | ADVISOR TODAY 57

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Advisor Today - September/October 2015

Why You Need a Mentor
The Key Attributes of Top Performers
Success Tips from a Golden Gloves Boxer
How I Use Social Media to Build my Practice
Getting Started on LinkedIn
Discussing Your Client’s LTC Needs in Retirement
How to Boost Your LTCI Production
¿Habla Español?
Providing a Retirement Safety Net
Ongoing Challenges, New Solutions
Four Under Forty
NAIFA’s 125th Anniversary
Demystifying CPA Alliances
Building Your Natural Audience
Holding Workshops?
Ideas to Help You Sell More
Special-Needs Planning
Planning for Divorced or Widowed Women

Advisor Today - September/October 2015