See this picture – the ostrich with its head in the sand…that was me, but last night I pulled my head out! What happened?
Last night, I went to the NAA-NY Metro Chapter’s February Educational Presentation – three financial advisors from AXA’s special needs family planning unit and a lawyer specializing in this issue presented on special needs trusts and other planning issues for families of special needs children. While I am biased (full disclosure, I am an officer of NAA-NY Metro) and I think all our presentations are terrific – this one was really exceptional. I blogged about the event at the NAA-NY Metro Blog but wanted to share more of my personal feelings too. Please check out my NAA post for more general information about ther presentations but I also wanted to give a "shout out" to Stuart Flaum, Anthony Marchiagiano, and Travis Dauchy – from AXA’s Special Needs Family Planning Group -- and Wendy Sheinberg, a partner in the law firm Davidow, Davidow, Siegel & Stern, LLP, they all deserve kudos for helping our families.
In my NAA blog post, I said that parents of kids on the spectrum hope that, with everything we do for our children, they will recover and not need the protections of a special needs trust – at least that is what I have been telling myself. I have put off dealing with this issue, telling myself I just wasn’t “sure” that we needed to do this. I admit, I had visions of tying up whatever we could scrape together into an irrevocable special needs trust that a perfectly independent Henry was stuck with for the rest of his days, cursing me, his dearly departed mother, for not having faith in his recovery. Honestly. Listening to our fabulous speakers last night, I realized I am being an idiot (sshhhh don’t tell my DH, I would never admit to him that I am less than perfect). Nothing like being whacked over the head with a dose of reality. G*d willing, Henry will recover fully -- but the speakers really made me aware that I need a flexible plan in case he does need some assistance. I learned that there are ways that we can structure things so that, at least when we are alive, we have flexibility in whether a special needs trust needs to be funded and how and when that would occur. That is a huge relief to me. I feel like we can plan and protect Henry but still be able to adapt to Henry’s needs going forward.
I am also interested in the idea of microboards and I am going to explore that as well – they seem like a great complement to other planning tools and a way to help ensure that Henry’s very specific needs are met. There is a great article in Spectrum Magazine about this.
Today’s financial market and job market uncertainties make it more important than ever that we make sure our children have the protections they need growing up and in their adulthood. No one wants to think about this, but I realize we all need to act! I, for one, am pulling my head out of the sand.