Special Needs Advice Videos

Watch our videos to learn how to improve
the special needs planning
you are doing for your family.

VIDEOS - SPECIAL NEEDS FINANCIAL PLANNING MISTAKES 1-10

Special Needs Planning Mistake 1 Assuming Guardianship is Appropriate for All Individuals

Read Transcript » » »

Assuming Guardianship is Appropriate for All Individuals with Special Needs is a mistake. Learn why… Guardianship might be a good idea for your loved one with special needs, but you should consider both the benefits and the challenges. Guardianship is the transfer of rights from one person to another by a judge, who is also the only one with power to return those rights. You must consider whether it’s in a special needs person’s best interest to have their rights removed. Guardianship is usually used to assist an individual with a disability in making financial and health care decisions. In cases of severe impairment, it makes sense. However, when the disability involves some cognitive limitations, but the individual can do some things for themselves, the decision is more difficult. In many cases, there may be more beneficial and less costly alternatives, such as Powers of Attorney. If you’re considering Guardianship for a loved one, talk to Oak Wealth Advisors, your Special Needs Expert, about your options and learn more about this and other Special Needs Financial Planning and resources – visit: https://oakwealth.com/special-needs-s… Or contact us at Oak Wealth Advisors today – Phone: 847-945-8888. From the day we began our firm, we have operated as a fiduciary firm. What does this mean for you? Find out Here… https://oakwealth.com/fiduciary-manif…

Special Needs Planning Mistake 2 Not Knowing What Countable Resources an Individual Has Prior to App

Read Transcript » » »

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, or SSI, benefits, the government considers ALL financial assets. An individual can only have 2,000 dollars in financial assets in addition to a car, personal belongings and self-employed business assets. It’s often surprising how many things individuals forget they own that can put them over the $2,000 limit. For example, a joint account with a parent counts entirely as the individual’s asset. A savings bond that was gifted at birth, but long forgotten in a drawer or safe also counts. As a shock to many, a credit card counts as a financial asset. The credit limit on the card is what counts as an available asset, not the current or outstanding balance. It’s essential to carefully review ALL financial assets before applying for means tested benefits if you want to avoid a negative result. Talk to Oak Wealth Advisors about your Special Needs Planning and learn more about this and other Special Needs recommendations and resources – visit: https://oakwealth.com/special-needs-s…

Special Needs Planning Mistake 3 Not Verifying Beneficiaries

Read Transcript » » »

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 beneficiary of an employer retirement account or IRA. Beneficiary designations determine who gets the money when the owner dies. Beneficiary designations ensure that assets flow into a Special Needs Trust and not directly to the individual with a disability. This distinction can be the difference between maintaining and losing, temporarily, government benefits such as Medicaid and SSI. A problem we often encounter is that people wrongly assume they know who the beneficiaries are on their retirement accounts and insurance policies. A beneficiary change requested, but not implemented by the carrier, can also be problematic. We’ll help you here at Oak Wealth Advisors verify all your beneficiaries and avoid any incorrect distributions.

Special Needs Planning Mistake 4 Failing to Communicate Your Intentions to Your Relatives

Read Transcript » » »

According to our financial planner for those of Special Needs, failing to communicate your intentions to your relatives is a mistake. Do you have a Trustee or Guardian?

Nobody wants to see a lifetime of hard work go to waste after they die. The key to ensuring that your loved one with special needs lives a full life with the best care is communication with those who play important roles. While it can be difficult to have a discussion about what will happen when you die, it is essential. Some relatives will expect to be a playing a role, while others will have no expectations.
If there is a relative you plan to designate as a Trustee, Guardian or care provider, it’s far better to let them know now. The advance notice provides you time to find another individual, if the person you designated declines. Also, by informing them now, and sharing your Care Guide or Letter of Intent, you can answer any questions they may have. Once you’ve made the initial communication, be sure to update those involved as the planning changes.

Talk to Oak Wealth Advisors about your options and learn more about this and other Special Needs recommendations and resources – visit: https://oakwealth.com/special-needs-s…

Special Needs Planning Mistake 5 Missing Government Benefits for Which You are Eligible

Read Transcript » » »

Special Needs Planning Mistake 5 Missing Government Benefits for Which You are Eligible such as SSI, Medicaid, Social Security Disability. Read why it is a mistake to not have these in place… For individuals with a significant disability, SSI is often their sole source of income and Medicaid is their only medical insurance. While these government benefits are important, there may be others you’re entitled to, but are unaware of. Some examples include: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, card for up to $200 a month for food. Medicare insurance, once a parent begins receiving Medicare, the child with a disability becomes eligible 24 months later. This Medicare insurance is in addition to Medicaid insurance. Social Security Disability income – When a parent reaches full retirement age, their child with a disability, and no work record, is eligible for income based on their parent’s work record. Many individuals with disabilities can also qualify for the Housing Choice Voucher Program to cover some, or all of their rent. Oak Wealth Advisors can discuss these programs with you, so you can apply for all the programs for which you qualify. Contact us at Phone: 847-945-8888 Talk to Oak Wealth Advisors about your options and learn more about this and other Special Needs recommendations and resources – visit: https://oakwealth.com/special-needs-s…

Special Needs Planning Mistake 6 Maintaining Inadequate Medical Records

Read Transcript » » »

Maintaining Inadequate Medical Records for your Special Needs Planning is another mistake. Here is why and what you should do…
Medical record keeping can be burdensome and at times depressing. However, the benefits of having comprehensive medical records exceed the challenges. In order to qualify for both means-tested, like Medicaid and SSI, and no asset limitation benefits such as SSDI and Medicare, individuals must be able to prove their disability. The government requires medical records, including written letters from physicians, to confirm disabilities.

ABLE [pronounced “able”]accounts also require individuals to have documentation of a qualifying medical disability in order to qualify. Future care givers will also be better equipped to keep your loved one healthy, if detailed medical records are available for review. These are some reasons why maintaining up to date medical records is essential.

To find out more about medical records and special needs planning, contact us today – Phone: 847-945-8888

Talk to Oak Wealth Advisors about your options and learn more about this and other Special Needs recommendations and resources – visit: https://oakwealth.com/special-needs-s…

Special Needs Planning Mistake 7 Giving a Credit Card to an Adult Child with Special Needs

Read Transcript » » »

Some parents mistakenly believe, adding a child with a disability as a co-signer on a credit card is a harmless act. While it does make purchasing items easier, it comes with the risk of reducing or eliminating government benefits. To qualify for means-tested benefits like SSI and Medicaid, the individual must have less than 2,000 dollars of financial assets in their name. However, credit cards are considered by the government to be financial resources. It is the credit limit, not the account balance, of the credit card that is used to calculate an individual’s financial resources. If having a card for making transactions is important, use a debit card and maintain a small balance in the bank account. Or, you can open a credit card with limit well below $2,000. If you have questions about credit cards and a special needs child’s benefits, contact Oak Wealth Advisors today. Phone: 847-945-8888 Talk to Oak Wealth Advisors about your options and learn more about this and other Special Needs recommendations and resources – visit: https://oakwealth.com/oak-wealth-advi… From the day we began our firm, we have operated as a fiduciary firm. What does this mean for you? Find out Here… https://oakwealth.com/fiduciary-manif…

Special Needs Planning Mistake 8 Drafting a Special Needs Trust Within a Parents Revocable Living Trust

Read Transcript » » »

A Special Needs Trust is an essential part of a successful special needs financial plan. Unfortunately, a number of attorneys draft the Special Needs Trust as part of a parent’s individual trust to be the beneficiary of the parent’s trust’s assets. Problems can arise when individuals other than the parent wish to make gifts or leave inheritances to the Special Needs Trust. In many cases, Special Needs Trusts cannot be the recipient of gifts from the other relatives, as they only come into existence when the parent dies. Instead, these trusts should be drafted as stand-alone documents, for two reasons. First, the Trust could then immediately be the recipient of gifts and inheritances from anyone. Second, they provide more privacy, as the government will only be reading the Special Needs Trust and not any of the family’s other estate planning documents. To find out more about Special Needs Trusts as stand alone documents, speak with us today. Contact Oak Wealth Advisors – Phone: 847-945-8888 Talk to Oak Wealth Advisors about your options and learn more about this and other Special Needs recommendations and resources – visit: https://oakwealth.com/special-needs-s… From the day we began our firm, we have operated as a fiduciary firm. What does this mean for you? Find out Here… https://oakwealth.com/fiduciary-manif…

Special Needs Planning Mistake 9 Buying the Wrong Kind of Life Insurance

Read Transcript » » »

Insurance is commonly used to fund an individual’s Special Needs Trust. Many families believe TERM life insurance will provide a sizable death benefit that can be used to support their loved one with special needs.Term insurance typically is not available once an individual reaches the age of 65 or 70. A family that pays premiums for decades may be left with no life insurance benefits for their loved one if they live into their eighties. While term life insurance is appropriate for covering lost wages due to a death prior to 70, it’s NOT permanent insurance coverage. Since a loved one with special needs has a permanent need, they need a permanent insurance policy. Permanent life insurance comes in a variety of different forms which a family can choose among. The key is to make sure that the policy will never expire as long as premiums are paid every year. If you have questions about a special needs child’s term insurance or special needs trust, contact Oak Wealth Advisors today. Phone: 847-945-8888 Talk to Oak Wealth Advisors about your options and learn more about this and other Special Needs recommendations and resources – visit: https://oakwealth.com/oak-wealth-advi… From the day we began our firm, we have operated as a fiduciary firm. What does this mean for you? Find out Here… https://oakwealth.com/fiduciary-manif…

Special Needs Planning Mistake 10 Failing to Take Advantage of All Available Resources and Planning

Read Transcript » » »

The challenges faced by families with loved ones with special needs are significant. It is essential, that regardless of the size of a family’s own financial resources, that they evaluate and access as many resources and opportunities as possible for their loved one. The government will provide income, health care, food and housing assistance to those who qualify. Some of these programs require that the individual qualify for means-tested benefits like SSI and Medicaid. There are also community organizations that provide recreational activities and employment supports to assist individuals in living their lives to the fullest extent possible. The organizations also provide programs and support for the parents and siblings of the individuals with special needs. With so many options available, it can be difficult to make an informed choice. But it’s critical that families build a network for accessing information to give their loved one the best support possible. Talk to Oak Wealth Advisors about your options and learn more about this and other Special Needs recommendations and resources – visit: https://oakwealth.com/special-needs-r… Or contact us at (847) 945-8888. From the day we began our firm, we have operated as a fiduciary firm. What does this mean for you? Find out Here… https://oakwealth.com/fiduciary-manif…

ADDITIONAL VIDEOS - SPECIAL NEEDS FINANCIAL PLANNING

Why Do the Employees of Oak Wealth Advisors Love the Work That We Do

Read Transcript Here

Oak Wealth Advisors was founded with the intention of helping as many families as possible with loved ones with special needs develop and implement comprehensive financial plans while growing their wealth to support their families’ needs. All Oak Wealth Advisors employees have personal family experiences navigating the challenges in the special needs community. We choose to work at Oak Wealth Advisors because we believe in the mission and we take great joy in helping families reduce their stress related to caring for their loved one with special needs. Unlike other firms that sell insurance or other financial products as their means of getting compensated by their clients, we get paid by our clients for providing them with objective planning advice and helping them grow their savings. We go home every night knowing that we have made a positive difference in our clients’ lives. From the day we began our firm, we have operated as a fiduciary firm. What does this mean for you? Find out Here… https://oakwealth.com/fiduciary-manif… Talk to Oak Wealth Advisors about your options and learn more about this and other Special Needs financial planning and other resources – visit: https://oakwealth.com/oak-wealth-advi… Or contact Oak Wealth Advisors today at Phone: 847-945-8888

Updated ABLE Account Features

Read Transcript Here

The good news for families with special needs members is that ABLE account benefits have continued to grow since their inception in 2016. A number of states are now offering a state income tax deduction for contributions to the state’s ABLE account. Individuals are now able to contribute their earnings up to the annual poverty level, 12,140 dollars in 2019, and is indexed annually. Families with College 529 Savings Plans, not used for school expenses, can rollover up to $15,000 per year to an ABLE Account. Some newer states to offer ABLE are now eliminating Medicaid payback requirements on the account balance at the death of the beneficiary, and others are trying to the same. The contribution limits to these plans, indexed to the federal gift tax annual exemption amount, was unchanged in 2019, but seems likely to increase in the future. There is growing support to expand the age of eligibility to open an ABLE account from the current onset of disability age of 26 to age 46. We anticipate additional enhancements will be made to the ABLE account features in the years to come. Talk to Oak Wealth Advisors about your options and learn more about this and other Special Needs financial planning and other resources – visit: https://oakwealth.com/oak-wealth-advi… Or contact Oak Wealth Advisors today at Phone: 847-945-8888 From the day we began our firm, we have operated as a fiduciary firm. What does this mean for you? Find out Here… https://oakwealth.com/fiduciary-manif…

Which is Better, an ABLE Account or a Special Needs Trust?

Read Transcript Here

People often ask us if they can use an ABLE Account instead of a Special Needs Trust to save for the future expenses of their loved one with Special Needs. ABLE Accounts have many attractive features which make them valuable as a savings option. They are tax-free accounts that aren’t included in the government’s calculation of the individual’s available resources, as long as the balance stays below $100,000. They can be opened online and funded with any amount up to $14,000 per year. While ABLE Accounts have many benefits, they also have limitations, and we recommend they be used together with Special Needs Trusts, rather than in place of them. ABLE Accounts are only able to receive $14,000 in deposits per year which eliminates them as an option for large inheritances. Because of the limit on the maximum account size, families need to be sure to spend down the ABLE Account as the balance rises to avoid any loss of benefits if the account exceeds $100,000. Also, any balances remaining in ABLE Accounts at the beneficiary’s death must be used to repay the government for Medicaid services received during the individual’s lifetime. Therefore, families should consider using ABLE Accounts as a savings account to handle smaller amounts of money and Special Needs Trusts for larger balances. Call or visit our website for more information.

Why are Special Needs Trusts Essential for Families with Members with Special Needs?

Read Transcript Here

Most families with special needs members have 2 top priorities – keeping them safe from financial abuse and helping them maintain eligibility for government benefits. Including a Special Needs Trust in their estate planning allows a family to ensure that the assets they leave behind for their loved one with special needs will be used for that person’s benefit. Because the Trustee of the Special Needs Trust is the only person who can approve a distribution, the ability for financial exploitation is minimized. In addition, the Trustee bears the fiduciary responsibility for managing the assets which increases the likelihood that the assets will be managed well. When it comes to government benefits, if the individual has as little as $2,000 in his or her name, the individual will NOT be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income, also known as SSI, and Medicaid services. However, money in a Special Needs Trust, regardless of the amount, is not included in the calculation when the government evaluates the individual’s available resources. The Trust could contain millions of dollars and the individual would still be eligible to receive SSI and Medicaid. While creating Special Needs Trusts requires spending money with an attorney, the value of the Trust is significant. To learn more, call us today or visit our website.

Why is a Special Needs Care Guide an Important Planning Tool

Read Transcript Here

Often the biggest concern of parents with Special Needs children is how their children will be cared for after they’re gone. While good legal planning is essential, there is a non-legal document that may be the most valuable thing parents can leave behind when they pass away. A Special Needs Care Guide allows a family to document the essential facts that future care givers need to know to be successful. The details should include medical and contact information as well as information about routines, likes, dislikes, goals, and family traditions. We believe that the best Special Needs Care Guides are maintained electronically so that they can be easily updated and shared with those involved with the individual’s care. While the process of completing the document can be emotionally challenging, the benefits far outweigh the time and effort that’s required. If you want to help ensure that your loved one with special needs has the best future care possible, you’re welcome to download a free copy of the Oak Wealth Advisors’ Special Needs Care Guide template from our website at www.oakwealth.com.

Why Should I Hire Oak Wealth Advisors?

Read Transcript Here

Why should you hire Oak Wealth Advisors? When we first meet with you, we don’t ask how much money you have; we ask how we can help you. Oak Wealth Advisors was founded with a passion for helping families with Special Needs members achieve their goals, not for being the largest or most profitable financial services firm. We’re among a small percentage of firms that put our clients’ interests ahead of our own – we ONLY get paid by our clients. Many financial advisors get kickbacks from mutual fund firms and brokerage firms, incentive payments for making referrals, and bonuses for meeting sales targets. Advisors at those other firms are chasing multiple sources of revenue, so their focus is divided. Our SOLE FOCUS is on our CLIENTS. Isn’t that where you want your financial advisor’s focus to be? At Oak Wealth Advisors, we use our knowledge and experience to give you more time to enjoy your life while we invest your wealth prudently, monitor your financial risks, and assist you with all of your financial and Special Needs planning decisions. We also collaborate with your other trusted advisors, and listen to ensure that we maintain our focus on your highest priorities. If you are seeking a relationship with an experienced, independent, financial advisor who’ll prioritize your needs and goals, and will actively listen and proactively communicate with you, we look forward to hearing from you.

Why are Account Titles and Beneficiary Designations So Important?

Read Transcript Here

Many people believe that if their will states that all assets are supposed to pass to their child’s Special Needs Trust at their death, that they will. They are wrong! Many, if not most, of a family’s assets will NOT pass according to their wills. Beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, IRA accounts, company retirement accounts, pension plans, and accounts that have transfer-on-death provisions override the will and dictate where the assets go at the owner’s death. Sadly, many families don’t take all the necessary steps to ensure that they have all their beneficiary designations properly established. A well-drafted estate plan will include the specific way for beneficiary designations to be listed on policies and accounts that have them. It’s not enough to merely file a change of beneficiary form to change beneficiaries. It’s essential to get documentation back from the insurance companies and retirement plan sponsors CONFIRMING THE BENEFICIARIES to ensure the assets will transfer as intended. For more information, please give us a call or visit our website today.

Doesn't Everyone Name a Relative to be the Guardian Trustee and Caregiver

Read Transcript Here

While it might seem easiest to name a relative to play the role of guardian, trustee, and caregiver of your loved one with special needs, it’s almost never the best approach for many reasons. First, the roles of guardian and trustee require administrative and financial skills that not all relatives possess. Second, the roles can be very time consuming. Third, is the toll they take on the people who perform these roles – an issue that’s often overlooked. Many caregivers suffer from increased anxiety, resentment about the amount of time required to deliver the care, and financial losses for paying out of pocket expenses for the person in need. Often, well-meaning relatives offer to be caregivers without fully understanding how challenging it can be. The best approach is to consider professionals for the various roles, with a caring relative providing oversight of the professionals. It’s essential to consider whether a relative or professional is best suited for these roles when creating or reviewing estate documents, letters of intent, and care plans. Call or visit our website to learn more.

Why is it Important to Surround Your Family with Fiduciaries

Read Transcript Here

Many people don’t understand exactly what a fiduciary is, and why it matters. Fiduciaries are people who are required, by law, to place your interests ahead of their own. They provide independent and objective advice. An attorney is an example of a fiduciary professional. The vast majority of people who refer to themselves as financial advisors, however, are NOT fiduciaries. Many so called financial advisors are just sales representatives for their insurance company or investment brokerage firm. Conflicts of interest are rampant among advisors who are not fiduciaries and those conflicts may cause families to overpay for insurance and investments while receiving advice that may not be in their best interest. By confirming you’re working with a fiduciary financial advisor, you can be assured that they’ll have your best interest in mind when making recommendations, and won’t be influenced by incentives or payments by firms pushing products. To learn more about our Fidicuary Promise, call us today, or visit our website at www.oakwealth.com.

Why Should You Register for Government Benefits if You May Never Need Them

Read Transcript Here

When a child reaches 18, parents no longer have an obligation to provide food, shelter, and medical care for them. While some individuals with special needs will find employment with full benefits, the reality is that most will not. The government is required to provide basic housing, medical care, and food to all adults who are unable to afford these things due to their disabilities. Families should register their loved one for government benefits at the earliest age possible, because it’s impossible to accurately forecast their future needs. By making benefits available to their loved one with a disability, families are able to stretch their savings and other resources even further. In Illinois, children should be added to the Prioritization of Urgency of Needs for Services, or P.U.N.S., (pronounced like the word puns) list as soon as their disability is identified. Illinois and many other states have waiting lists for services, and getting on the lists as soon as possible increases your odds of getting the services your family member needs. Access to government benefits is not automatic, so it’s essential to start the application process as soon as possible. For more information, call or visit our website today.

Why Do You Need a Network of Peers and Agencies in Your Community

Read Transcript Here

There’s never enough time to accomplish everything on our “to do” list.

That’s why family members of loved ones with special needs might not feel it’s worthwhile to spend precious time building a network of peers and agencies in their community.

However, having a network of friends and advisors who you can trust for recommendations, and who understand your challenges, can be invaluable.

It requires an investment of time to build a trusted network, but the payback will almost always be a multiple of the time you invest.

Often opportunities arise in the Special Needs community that may require swift action or have limited availability.

The more contacts and connections you have the better your chances are of being able to take advantage of the opportunities.

Your knowledge of the available care providers and service agencies in your community will directly impact the quality of the care plan you develop for your loved one with Special Needs.

Network building is a lifelong exercise that is well worth the time required. To learn more, please call us, or visit our website today.

What Home Safety Planning Steps Should a Family with an Individual with Special

Read Transcript Here

There are a number of actions that every family with a child with Special Needs should take as soon as a diagnosis is received, and every time your family moves.

First, letting your local police department, fire department, and paramedics know the details of the disability that your loved one has may mean the difference between life and death.

Public safety officers can unintentionally diagnose a situation incorrectly if they’re not aware of an individual’s disability.

Second, practicing what to do when an alarm is sounded in the house is an important exercise that families should repeat on a regular basis.

In some cases, extra accommodations need to be made in a house to ensure that everyone can safely exit the house in the case of an emergency.

Third, if the individual’s condition increases their likelihood of wandering, having them wear a watch, bracelet, or other device that can be activated to identify their location should be a priority.

There are many steps that can be taken to minimize risks in a home and make it easier for emergency responders to be successful when they are needed.

To learn more, call or visit our website today.

Coordinating Your Planning with Your Relatives Can Be Hard

Read Transcript Here

Would you rather have the relatives that you have named to play key roles in your child’s future decline to serve before or after you die?

Of course, you want to be sure that people and agencies that you’ll be relying upon for the future care of your loved one with Special Needs have the time, willingness, and ability to serve.

Therefore, it’s essential that you ask them about their willingness to serve, and ensure that they understand the responsibility that comes with their roles ahead of time.

If the relative is unable, or unwilling to serve, you’ll be able to identify an alternative who is.

In addition, you want any relative who may wish to leave a large gift to your loved one with Special Needs to direct the gift to their Special Needs Trust and not to the individual directly.

By properly directing the gifts to the Special Needs Trust, access to government benefits can be maintained.

The odds of a Special Needs plan being successful increase when the extended family is informed about the plan.

That way, you can ensure that a well-meaning relative doesn’t destroy the plan that you have thoughtfully built for your loved one. Call us or visit our website for more information on Special Needs planning.

When Should You Begin Planning for Employment and Housing for Your Loved

Read Transcript Here

People often ask us when they should begin planning for employment and housing for their loved one with special needs. The short answer is NOW.

You should expect that the transition to adulthood will be much more difficult for an individual with special needs than for someone without extra challenges.

Because the transition is more difficult, the planning needs to begin sooner than it would for a child without Special Needs.

If transition services are available through your child’s school district, often the most valuable topics to address are vocational skill development and independent living skills.

Families have to weigh the benefits of employment with the risk that the earnings may reduce or eliminate the benefits received from the government.

Another concern is that housing options are not as plentiful as most families would like them to be.

Finding agencies and firms that provide housing supports, job coaching, and employment services should be priorities for families as their children approach aging out of their school provided supports.

The earlier you start the planning for employment and housing, the more likely you’ll be to achieve positive results. Call us or visit our website today for more information.