Where to start planning if you have a special needs child?

What is a picture of words worth?

The best time to plant a tree is 25 years ago, the second-best time is right now.

Supposedly, an ancient Chinese proverb, but who knows?

It can be overwhelming. Figuring out how to get the care and services for your special needs child is incredibly difficult; figuring out how to pay for it can be even more difficult. And then add in the effort of being a caregiver. The prospect of planning to provide for all of your child’s needs when something happens can be scary. How are you going to do it?

First, let’s not freak out too much. Yes, there are many things to think about, estate planning techniques we can help you with, etc. But we can also just start where we are. Why not just start with opening an ABLE account? You don’t need a lawyer for that.

ABLE stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience (cool acronym) and an ABLE account is basically a special kind of state-run investment account that allows families of people with special needs to save money for them, and grow it tax-free, without jeopardizing their ability to receive government benefits. What 529 accounts are to college savings, ABLE accounts are to special needs. Florida’s ABLE account is called ABLE United and you can find out about it here.

As I said above, the earnings in ABLE accounts grow tax-free, and some states will allow a tax-deduction for contributions to those states’ ABLE plans. That doesn’t help Florida residents as we have no state income tax, but if you have family members in a state like Michigan, which does, and which allows tax deductions for ABLE account contributions, they can get a tax deduction for helping provide for your special needs child.

As I noted above, you don’t need a special needs or estate planning lawyer to set up an ABLE account. That said, we are here to help.

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