Skills That Your Special Needs Planning Professional Should Have: Part 10 in a Series of Articles. (Special Advertising Section)
Harmon, Dave, The Exceptional Parent
Many parents of children with special needs do not know what skill sets their special needs planning professional advisors should have. Choosing the wrong advisor can have disastrous effects on the quality of life of the individual, and can certainly affect the outcome of all special needs planning, estate planning, government benefits, and other important planning issues regarding the individual. Here is a guide of skill sets and experiences that your advisor should have before you consider having him or her plan for your child with special needs.
* Has tangible experience in special needs planning and, as a result, has a pool of clients that can be used as references. Just as references should be available to anyone considering using the services of a professional, parents should be able to ask for and receive the names of satisfied clients that they may contact.
* Should be well grounded and knowledgeable in all types of available government benefit programs such as: SSI (Supplemental Security Income), SSDI (Social Security Disability Income), Medicaid (state run federal program for the aged, disabled, and blind), and Medicare (Social Security Health Insurance program with Part A & B coverages).
* Understands how Medicaid-related health benefits work in your state. For instance, some states have Medicaid supplement programs and additional benefits available through TEFRA (Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act).
* If your advisor is knowledgeable about such programs, he or she may be able to advocate for a client and secure additional levels of benefits, or can refer clients to advocates who may be able to assist them.
* Is well-grounded in the fundamentals of estate planning. This would include understanding the inter-relationships of legal documents and how they work, such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare proxies. Your advisor should also be up to date on recent 2001 changes in the estate tax laws that could impact on special needs planning issues. Estate tax rates are now in the process of being reduced and will be phased out over a ten-year period. However, at the end of the ten- year period, the tax code will revert to current law.
* Works well with other professionals who have an expertise in special needs planning. …