Financial planners focus on special needs trusts for disabled children

Special needs trusts are a vital tool for families that have handicapped members who are unable to care for themselves. These trusts are a way to provide for special-needs children who will outlive their parents and ensure that these children will continue to have adequate support and housing.

A special needs trust is also an important estate planning tool that can help protect assets from disqualifying a special-needs child for government benefits. Although these trusts can greatly help many families, many financial planners find that establishing these trusts is not profitable.

A financial advisor profiled by Financial Planning bucks this tend and makes sure that at least 30 percent of his practice focuses on financial tools for special-needs children. "It's a storm, and there's nobody out there helping these people," the advisor said.

The advisor's interest in special-needs families is a personal one. Two of his brothers have a genetic disorder called Phenylketonuria, and one of his daughters is mentally handicapped. After his daughter's birth he learned the difficulties of having a special-needs child.

"I was realizing how dysfunctional everything is as far as getting information," he said. "When my daughter was about 8 or 10, I made a concerted effort to learn everything I could about special needs so that I can be a resource to parents out there."

Although it may be difficult to find a financial advisor to create a special needs trust for a child, many experienced estate planning attorneys will also be able to create special needs trusts as part of a holistic estate plan.

Source: Financial Planning, "Providing Advice to Families with Special-Needs Children," Steve Garmhausen, 4/6/11

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