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Ensure All Your Assets Go To Your Intended Recipients

Special Needs Planning Mistake 3 Not Verifying Beneficiary Designations, Retirement Accounts and more is a mistake. Learn why… Most people think that their will dictates where all of their assets will go after they die. While wills and Trusts identify who’ll inherit many assets, they don’t control where insurance proceeds will go nor determine the…

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Avoiding Loss or Denial of Social Security and Medicaid Benefits

Video Above | Special Needs Planning Mistake 2 Not Knowing What Countable Resources an Individual Has Prior to Applying Not Knowing What Countable Resources an Individual Has Prior to Applying is a Special Needs Planning Mistake. According to Oak Wealth Advisors, here is why… When determining a special needs individual’s Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income,...
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Video | Learn from special needs planning experts and peers

Watch The Complete Video Below…
A town hall Video discussion covering the most challenging issues facing families with loved ones with disabilities.

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FREE National Parks pass for people with disabilities

People with disabilities are entitled to a free, lifetime, National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Access Pass to visit over 2,000 federal recreation sites across the country. Included are National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests, and other federal recreation lands. In order to obtain a pass, you must provide documentation that you have a permanent disability.

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Back To School – For How Long?

In the special needs community, the end of supports through the school district can be a frightening time for families. There is no consistent age at which services end among the various states. Oak Wealth Advisors has produced a first-of-its-kind chart that illustrates these ages. We hope that families and their advisors will benefit from…

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Great News for Families in Illinois with Loved Ones with Special Needs!

ABLE accounts, which we have strongly recommended for several years, now have the additional benefit of providing an Illinois state income tax deduction for those who contribute to an Illinois ABLE Plan. We have been advocating for this tax deduction since the federal law creating ABLE accounts was passed in December of 2014. We are happy to see our efforts, and the voices of many other families, reflected in this new state income tax benefit.

Liam-and-Maddy

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I Still Wish You Did Not Have Down Syndrome

From Randi Gillespie of Oak Wealth Advisors A few years back, I penned an article about my youngest child, Liam (then 7) and his older sister, Maddy (then 10) that ran in the Chicago Tribune Perspective Section. The heart of the article was that Maddy had Down syndrome and her younger brother, Liam, was angry…

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Making a Difference | Our Time With Jack

One of the core missions of Oak Wealth Advisors is to improve the lives of families with special needs members. That mission extends well beyond providing fiduciary financial services to our clients. It also includes giving national and local presentations to members of non-profit organizations, educating other financial advisors, and creating opportunities for individuals with…

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Mental Health Challenges Should Not Define An Individual’s Life

Having a mental illness presents challenges in individuals’ lives, but it should not define their lives. The same could be said for other disabilities, yet mental illnesses have such a stigma around them. This stigma causes individuals to be fearful about opening up about their mental illness. This fear can cause the mental illness to…

ABLE

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ABLE Accounts – Even Better in 2018

As we start 2018, there are now 31 states offering ABLE accounts and 23 of them are accessible to residents of all states. While ABLE accounts have retained all of their initial benefits, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act added some additional features to the plans. The first enhancement is an increase in the amount…

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Supreme Court Clarifies Free Appropriate Public Education

On Wednesday, March 22, 2017, the special needs community was able to breathe a collective sigh of relief.  The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that upholds and clarifies the right to free appropriate public education (F.A.P.E.) for all citizens.  The challenge came from a family that had been told by the Tenth Circuit…

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ABLE ACT UPDATE 2017

Over two years after the ABLE Act was passed, fewer than half of the fifty states are offering ABLE accounts. The good news is that the number is growing on a monthly basis. In January, a consortium of fourteen states has begun launching their plans. Among these states is Illinois. Please see the state graphic…

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2016 The Case For Inclusion Summary

The following summary comes from United Cerebral Palsy and their annual study of the special needs programs and resources available across the country.  For more information and access to the entire study, visit http://cfi.ucp.org. The Case For Inclusion 2016 report is the broadest and most interesting national study of special needs services we have found….

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Recommendations For More Successful I.E.P. Meetings

Our recommendations for having successful Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings: Be Proactive.  Your role is equally important as the education professionals’.  You are an expert about your child.  You should advocate for the support your child needs. Prepare well in advance of the meeting. Prior to the I.E.P., send a letter including all the topics…

ABLE

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ABLE Accounts—Now they exist!

As of June 1, 2016, Ohio is accepting applications for 529 ABLE Accounts.  As we had anticipated, they are the first state to offer the plans.  While being first is certainly an advantage for Ohio, it does not mean that their plan will be optimal for all individuals.  To their credit, Ohio has chosen to…

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Before Signing, Talk to your Special Needs Advisor

Before Signing Anything on Behalf of Someone Else, Talk to Your Special Needs Advisor.  Individuals lack the ability to sign documents for various reasons.  In some cases, a person has suffered from a disability since birth and has never had the mental capacity to make decisions independently.  In other cases, an injury or medical condition could…

ABLE

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THE ABLE ACT – One Year Later

A year after Congress authorized ABLE Accounts as tax-free savings accounts for individuals with special needs, the Internal Revenue Service has still not completed the regulations on how the accounts should be implemented and managed.  Although the final regulations have not been released, we have learned some details which suggest the new accounts may be…

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End of the Road Coming for Social Security Strategies

The Senior Citizens Freedom to Work Act, passed in 2000, allowed seniors to continue working while receiving Social Security benefits.  This Act permitted Social Security benefits planning strategies that helped couples maximize their retirement income benefits.  These strategies were tied to the concept of a primary wage earner delaying the start of their benefits while…

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2015 The Case For Inclusion Summary

The following summarizes the United Cerebral Palsy’s annual study of the special needs programs and resources available across the country. For more information and access to the entire study, visit www.ucp.org/the-case-for-inclusion/2015. The Case For Inclusion 2015 report is the broadest and most interesting national study of special needs services we have found. They have been…

ABLE

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ABLE ACT: Mid-Year Update

Six months after Congress authorized ABLE Accounts as tax-free savings accounts for individuals with special needs, the Internal Revenue Service has issued proposed regulations on how the accounts should be implemented and managed.  The proposed regulations outline the requirements the states must meet to offer the accounts as well as eligibility and reporting rules for…

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Housing Options For Family Members With Special Needs

For most families, living with their adult child or parent with special needs is the reality.  However, the optimal situation for many individuals with special needs would be living elsewhere.  Normally, during the transition years of school (ages 14-21), the issue of housing is addressed.  A delay in addressing housing, due to an injury or…

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Administrative Burdens

When A Family Member With Special Needs Lives With Parents Or Siblings In a perfect world, we would all live interdependently in safe houses in our desired neighborhoods, feel integrated with the community, and be close to our loved ones. Achieving this ideal housing situation is difficult for anyone, but for an individual with special…

ABLE

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Welcoming the ABLE Act

Congress has done little since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to improve the lives of those with disabilities. With the one exception being the Affordable Care Act of 2010, which was not directed at the special needs community, it is difficult to find other legislation that specifically benefits this group….

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Beware of the Language Minefield

Language is powerful. It can be used to inspire and empower, but also to dehumanize and ostracize. In the special needs community, we face a language minefield that creates challenges for even our best-spoken advocates. We hope that this article generates discussions, reflections, and actions that contribute to an improved use of language in the…

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A boy, his sister and Down syndrome

Originally Featured in the Chicago Tribune Written by Randi Gillespie It had been a typical morning in our house — kids waking up way too early to raid the freezer for frozen chocolate chip waffles instead of cereal or fruit. I overhear their voices giggling and making silly jokes to one another while playing “Minecraft” on their…

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Collaboration Drives Success in School

The school year brings with it a chance for growth, new experiences, and the comfort of routine. It is also often the time when the greatest progress is made in a child’s development. Given the unique challenges of navigating the school system for children with special needs, we wanted to share our insights on how…

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The North Shore Weekend article about Oak Wealth Advisors

Financial firm focuses on future of those with special needs …Walther compares himself to a pilot for the families. “Ninety percent of flights are not on course but over 99 percent land safely”, he said.  “People have retirement goals, and we can’t forget about their needs.  Maybe your goal is for all your kids to…

People looking over trust

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Do I Really Need A Professional Trustee For My Special Needs Trust?

Serving as a trustee requires administrative and technical skills in addition to strong interpersonal communication skills. Identifying the appropriate trustee is difficult in general; a Special Needs Trust presents additional challenges. While most families will name a relative to serve as the trustee of their family’s Special Needs Trust, they are often unaware of the…

Its Not Just A Job - Worker of Special Needs

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It’s not just a job, it’s_____________.

The U.S. Navy concludes their marketing pitch above with “an adventure.” While their focus is on recruiting for military service, the message in their ad should resonate with everyone in the special needs community. Employment for those with special needs is much more than a source of economic benefit. Individuals with disabilities want the same…