Friday, February 10, 2012

Met Life Center for Special Needs Planning

image(This is not a paid endorsement. I’m not on commission. It’s just good information to pass along from our personal experience.)

If you’re in the StL metro or surrounding areas, this group is doing a free workshop about all this on 2/27 in O’Fallon, MO.  Let me know if you want more details. braskasmom atgmail. com

Throughout the Down syndrome community and other groups supporting those with special needs, it is often heard discussed.  Special Needs Planning.  And to some, they immediately want to change the subject.  Talking about what happens to your kids when you die is not really everyone’s favorite subject.  And that’s what people seem to assume this “special needs planning” is all about.

And it’s not.  Well, not completely.  It’s much more than that.

Yes, there is the discussion of things like who will care for your children if you are not able to, how you want them cared for, what you expect them to have access to and what resources are most important.  But there are many more facets to the process.

We spent time (over several months of this process) thinking about what we want for Braska in the big picture, what the details of that plan looks like, and even what things we can utilize this special needs trust for even while we’re around. 

Because, yes, a special needs trust does not just have to be for after you die.  Did you know that?

There’s a ton of info that’s good to know.  And the fact that these guys are trained and experts and it’s their job to be up to date on all the goings on in the legal side of special needs info…. priceless.

What about all that money I have to have before I can start this process??  I have no money to even dream of leaving inheritance to my kids…  Might that be what you’re thinking?? 

I can’t speak for every single part of the organization, but I can say that we don’t have big $$ to begin setting aside for our little trust-fund-babies-to-be.  The beauty is that the Met Life gang met with us several times, spent hours with us, listening, suggesting, listening a lot more.  There was no money exchanged.  Yes, there are things they will talk about that involve money…. life insurance being one of them.  But with each thing they suggested, they always knew that we would only make the choice we could afford, and our choice was not always their “best” option, in their opinion.  They were still supportive even then.

When it got to the legal side—wills, setting up the family trust (which we also chose to do, encompassing the special needs trust…makes more sense when they explain it), and dealing with guardianship and beneficiary deeds, etc—we did pay the attorney.  And we were ok with that.  He was beyond awesome and if you’re in the StL metro, we would highly recommend that you use him.  All in all, money included, it was not more than we could handle, and it is invaluable to now have in place.

If there is one thing I learned without a shadow of a doubt, it is how dangerous it can be to entrust this type of task to a financial planner or an attorney who does not SPECIALIZE in these things.  This thing, the special needs trust, is it’s own animal, and unless they’ve studied them in detail, I would look elsewhere.

I received this link today to a video piece that Met Life has done for this particular service.  Check it out.  And if you haven’t done it already, no matter WHAT age your child is or how much money you have in the bank, set up an appointment.  Call whoever is close to you and book a time.  It doesn’t cost anything but some time to sit down and learn more about what is available. You will be very glad you have experts on your side, and your family will benefit from these things being handled and settled.

If you’d like to know more specifics or about how some particular area of our process went, just ask, we’re not shy…  I would be happy to share.

For those of you that have gone through the special needs trust process, I’d love to hear your experiences and/or resources you found helpful.

3 comments:

  1. We used Met Life too and **loved** them. As RK says, it's not just deciding where to send your kids AFTER*. It's getting the structure in place to preserve your kid's eligibility for SSI and medicare. The fed's asset restrictions are obnoxiously low - so low that your #$%^& [cheap] employer provided life insurance or your great grandma's wedding ring will tip them over into ineligibility. While I don't want my kid to be dependent on the feds, I also don't want to eliminate the possibility.

    *If you and your spouse can't agree on where they go, you'll have separate wills anyway and can play the Last Parent Standing game. Nothing like a little friendly marital competition in the afterlife to keep the spark alive!

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  2. We also used MetLife to set up Quade's special needs trust. The attorney we used has a son with Ds and was very affordable for setting up all the legal stuff. It took about 5 months of several meetings with both our MetLife rep and the attorney to get everything squared away, but we are so glad we did. You just never know when God is going to call you home and it's all about peace of mind knowing Quade will be taken care of.

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  3. How much did you have to pay the attorney to setup the special needs trust? Thanks.

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