a small monthly contribution.
“I say my prayers and go to sleep. What will be, will be,” Jerry says. I may not have $1,000 to just blow today, but there is enough food in the house.”
To help Jerry develop an action plan, BLACK ENTERPRISE asked Mehul Mistry to evaluate his situation. Mistry is a certified financial planner with Secure Planning Strategies in Southfield, Michigan, which works with families of special-needs children and adults.
Focus on debt. Jerry should consider a home equity line of credit to pay off all of his debts. The interest rate will likely be lower than the double-digit rates currently on the credit cards. Given Jerry’s current payment pattern, Mistry says that he would easily be able to make payments on the line of credit. “If he is able to make the same payment to clear away consolidated debt, that leaves the freedom to utilize excess cash to create assets for the future,” says Mistry.
Fine-tune estate plan. Jerry has taken steps to create a revocable living trust, but has yet to fund the trust. “The trust should be named as the beneficiary of his life insurance policies as well as retirement plans, as Darrius is still a minor,” advises Mistry. Jerry also needs to create a separate special-needs trust for Darrius to protect his son’s eligibility for future government benefits. The special-needs trust should be coordinated with the legal documents of other family members so that Darrius doesn’t inadvertently receive (e.g., through a will) any funds that should go to the trust, as this could jeopardize his eligibility.
Mistry recommends that Jerry choose an attorney who is well versed in special-needs planning to draft the trust. He suggested a few good Websites for finding legal help, such as The Arc, a grassroots organization for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities (www.thearc.org), the Special Needs Alliance, a network of lawyers dedicated to disability and public benefits law (www.specialneedsalliance.com), and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (www.naela.com).
Explore a variety of services. Investigate the offerings of various support groups such as YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities Network (www.yai.org), which provides services, education, and training in the field of developmental and learning disabilities. Other helpful sites include www.thinkcollege.net, which offers information about post-secondary education programs that support youth with intellectual disabilities, and www.yellowpagesforkids.com, which lists resources such as educational consultants, psychologists, and healthcare specialists for children with disabilities.