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Legal Planning For Special Families in Massachusetts: A Family Guide to SSI, Guardianship and Estate Planning
By Barbara Jackins
Legal Planning for Special Needs is a must have resource for parents of children with disabilities and the professionals and advocates who assist them. In an easy-to-read, conversational style, the author covers the essential elements of SSI, guardianship, and estate planning when there is a child with a disability in the family. This book, which updates an earlier edition, covers the 2009 changes in the Massachusetts guardianship laws.
In 2017, Governor Charlie Baker launched the Massachusetts ABLE Act savings program. The ABLE Act allows persons with disabilities to save money without losing benefits such as Medicaid (MassHealth in our state) and SSI. Here are some key points to remember about the savings program:
- Eligibility requires that the onset of the disability occur prior to age 26 years
- The maximum to be saved is $14,000 a year in tax-deductible contributions
- There is a $100,000 cap in order to preserve SSI eligibility
- There can only be one ABLE account for an individual
- Money must be spent for qualified expenses
- Medicaid payback kicks in for any remaining dollars in the ABLE account upon the death of the beneficiary
The program gives a person with disabilities the opportunity to build investments for the long term. Anyone can donate to the account. Until ABLE, individuals faced a $2,000 cap for resources, which meant any private funding would have to come through a special needs trust account. This requires legal assistance, which is a barrier for some people. ABLE does not eliminate the value of or need for a special needs trust for those who use them now. You can save toward a car, equipment, housing expenses or other needs.
Qualified expenses include any expenses related to the eligible individual’s disability, including: education, housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology and personal support services, health, prevention and wellness, financial management and administrative services, legal fees, expenses for oversight and monitoring, funeral and burial expenses.
To learn more about ABLE accounts, please visit www.Fidelity.com/Attainable
The Special Needs Planning Guide: How to Prepare for Every Stage of Your Child’s Life
By John W. Nadworthy, CFP®, CHFC and Cynthia R. Haddad, CFP®
Help protect and improve the future lives of entire families with this essential financial planning guide, ideal for parents of a child with a disability and service providers who support them. Developed by two financial planning experts who also have family members with special needs, this one-of-a-kind book is an absolute must-have as parents and other caregivers plan for the lasting financial independence of their families.
Transforming the financial planning presentations they’ve given to families across the country into a thorough, easy-to-read resource, the well-known authors give parents a chronological guide broken down into four critical life stages, so readers can turn right to the section that applies to them. For each stage from birth to adulthood, parents will get comprehensive advice and strategies on how to address:
- Financial factors – including mortgages and other expenses, insurance policies, investments, and savings
- Legal factors – such as conducting estate planning, weighing guardianship with less restrictive alternatives, and creating a Special Needs Trust to ensure a child’s future
- Government factors – identifying and supplementing government benefits, such as residential services, supported employment, and respite care
- Family and support factors – such as the family’s values, the parents’ careers, sibling considerations, and contributions of extended family members
- Emotional factors – such as dealing with both positive and negative feelings, staying connected with others, and using strong emotions to fuel advocacy
Included are all the tools families need to create an effective action plan for their finances: planning checklists and forms, a helpful glossary of financial terms, “planning pointers” that help readers remember key points, and extended case studies dramatizing other families’ evolving challenges and solutions. Plus, the CD-ROM in the back of the book contains a helpful Financial Planning Timeline and a printable Letter of Intent that lets parents communicate key information, concerns, and desires to future caretakers.
A book parents will use for the rest of their lives – and a necessary addition to the reference library of every service provider – The Special Needs Planning Guide will awaken families’ awareness about financial planning, give them what they need to get it done, and help them turn their dreams for their future into reality. To Order call 1-800-638-3775 (M-F, 8am -5pm), or buy online at Brookes Publishing.