Unbabbled: Financial Planning

Long-Term Financial Planning for Families of a Child with Special Needs

Caring for a child with special needs, such as a communication disorder, learning difference or complex medical diagnosis, can be overwhelming. Families planning for the future of a child with special needs could benefit from additional support and financial resources. In this episode, we speak with financial planners Bryan Smith and Tinja Anderson of MassMutual Greater Houston to learn the basics of planning for your family’s unique financial needs. They provide clarity on complex issues like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security benefits, different types of trusts families with special needs may use, and what to keep in mind when planning for the future. They also share the types of services they provide to families to give holistic support now and through the next 20, 40 or 60 years.

About Our Guests

Bryan Smith is a financial planner for MassMutual Greater Houston who works with families to develop customized Life Care Plans using unique and personalized strategies that maximize financial efficiency. His passion to serve is born out of his personal journey and growth as the oldest brother to a sibling with special needs. He relates to siblings and parents about the highs and lows of caring for a person who has disabilities. Bryan assists families with a myriad of issues including understanding and accessing public benefits, preserving benefit eligibility through special needs trusts and guardianship concerns.

Tinja Anderson is a financial strategist whose mission is to leave anything she touches better than she found it. She is passionate about assisting her clients by reducing their fear of not having enough, and by working with a team of special care planners who assist her clients in navigating the complex world of special needs. As a sibling of someone who grew up with a severe speech disorder, she knows how important it is to find a community of support.

You can follow the Greater Houston MassMutual SpecialCare Team on Facebook for upcoming free webinars.

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Stephanie (00:04):

Well welcome. We're so excited today to be speaking with Tinja Anderson and Bryan Smith, they are financial planners. This is actually something that we have been looking forward to. Pretty much since we started talking about having this podcast and something, we've also been trying to plan and pin down for the past couple of months, thanks to the fun of COVID and schedules changing back and forth. So I'm really, really excited to have both of you on here today. So I'll start it off with first starting. Can you explain to us, you guys are with mass mutual, greater Houston, and you are part of the SpecialCare planning team. Can you explain to us a little bit about what the SpecialCare planning team is?

Tinja (00:48):

Yeah, absolutely. Bryan, I'm going to take this one. Um, so essentially what we do is we help families identify and prioritize financial goals and objectives for their loved one, um, that has a special need or disability by implementing strategies that are designed to help leave a legacy in the most cost effective and tax efficient way. Um, so essentially we're addressing family dynamics, planning dynamics, um, that, that those types of families face, including estate planning, trustee options, qualifying a child's lifetime need, um, coordination with the next in line caregiver, or, um, what's going to happen with residential facilities, financial like financial planning for, um, both the parents and the kiddo, um, for life. So it's basically planning for two generations.

Stephanie (01:38):

Wow. That's a lot. What can you give me, hold on, let me start that over. What is your background?

Bryan (01:48):

Um, so my background is a little unique to this situation. So I actually, the oldest brother of three boys that my mom has, my middle-aged brother, um, is severely disabled. And so he was given two years to live because of his disabilities. He's got about 14 different disabilities and he's 27 now. So he's definitely lived past, um, how long we expected him to be around. And it's a blessing every single day. But one thing that I started noticing growing older and, and going off to college and starting my own life and my own family was my mom never really had that conversation with me of what's expected. What's going to happen when my mom's gone. Um, what's James' life gonna look like? Um, so when I got into the financial planning field, I really started to realize that there is no financial planner out there that my mom could sit down with and talk about her personal situation and then overlap that with the needs and challenges that she faces every day with, with living with James. Um, and so I took it upon myself to, to read up as much as I can, become a chartered special needs consultant and start serving families like myself, but also allowing siblings to come to me and ask me questions that maybe they don't feel comfortable asking their parents. Cause it's, you know, it's tough conversation, right? When you're asking your mom to say mom, when you're not around what happens. And you know, I, I think moms that are caring for individuals with special needs are super moms. You know, they, they are amazing individuals and that's their life. And that's something that I respect my mom for is James is for life. And when you try to separate those two, he gets emotional. It gets tough. Sometimes people shut down and as a sibling, that's where I started realizing and talking to a lot of siblings was my parents doesn't want to tell me it's they just don't worry about it. I've got it taken care of. In reality, that's not always true. So we kind of develop that practice of not just financial planning, but making sure we're taking care of the family as well. But we're maximizing the benefits. We're maximizing that transfer of responsibility to one individual or multiple individuals. If, if multiple individuals are gonna be in presence. So, um, it's personal, it's fun. Every family is different and unique. Um, so it's, it's definitely a rewarding career. Um, yeah,

Stephanie (03:56):

I love that you say that it's fun financial planner that thinks it's fun cause I do not.

Bryan (04:07):

You know about a month ago meeting with a family, it's an audience where my mom works and we had had a client in all day and she had her son on the call with me too. And he was like, vetting me. And it was kind of like, Hey, do I trust him as well? And she sent me an email afterwards. She was like, mom, I really liked him. He's the guy I trust. And I was like, you know, that's, that's fun. You know, it's not, it's not necessarily relationships we build with the parents, but it's also the kids as well because we're signing up for a lifelong commitment. You know, it's, it's no, you know, hidden secret that typically the families wait till the last minute to plan and they'll sit down with me and they're looking at me saying, why should I trust you with all my money or my future you're decades younger than me. You know, I don't hide that. It's true. I am younger than typically my average client, but the flip side is, is I'm going to be around when you're gone. And so when you're not here, I'm still going to be doing what I'm doing. I'm still gonna be practicing up in the families. And that means more to me than whether I've gone through the dot.com crash. You know, I've been through the eighties credit crisis, you know, it's, it's about building those relationships that are really going to be 40, 50, 60 years long. So it's exciting.

Meredith (05:11):

So you touched on people trusting you, how do, how do families, what are some things they should be looking for in their financial planner to know that it's a good fit for their family?

Bryan (05:21):

We get asked that a lot because it's really, it's also the other side of the question is what makes you different? Um, you know, one of the easiest things I always tell people who are working with know financial planners or financial professionals elsewhere is ask your planner to give you the, just a, a rundown. What's the difference between SSI and RSTI, Medicaid and Medicare. I think can't answer those very basic differences. They're probably not someone you should be working with long-term.

Meredith (05:47):

I would love for you to clarify a little bit more about what that is. I should not be a financial planner because I don't know the answer to those.

Bryan (05:59):

Um, we always count those as the foundation to every plan. So SSI stands for supplemental security income. And then along with that comes Medicaid, which is typically individuals that have some sort of disability recognized by social security administration gets those benefits at one time or the other. Typically what we see is that they get those benefits at 18 and beyond. Um, so 18 is a very, very big year. RSDI stands for retirement survivorship, disability insurance. What that means is if your child, for instance, is on the spectrum and has been diagnosed with a disability prior to age 22, they can claim a benefit on behalf of the parent's work history. So mom and dad can retire at 67, for example, well, that child can receive 50% of mom and dad's mom or dad's benefit up to 50%. When mom and dad passes away, they get a pay increase the up to 75%. So there's these different benefits that the individual with special needs is entitled to at different stages in their life. But working with the planner who doesn't know the requirements, for example, SSI, Medicaid, you can't have more than $2,000 in your name. You know, that's, that's a small amount, especially when we talk about therapies and day rehabilitation programs, residential options that are not cheap. It's, it's really hard to, to overlook the needs and just say, Oh, we'll be fine. We'll have waivers class or HDS or home community services later, but not really realizing that there's a foundation that needs to be built upon.I A lot of planners just overlooked that they just worry about asset gathering. They worry about parents, you know, retirement picture the guys we're, we're not just planning for 30 years. You don't retire at 65 and mom passes away at 90. We've got another 40 to 50 years behind that, that those assets need to last because that child is going to be potentially dependent fully or semi fully on those assets, depending on the goals that we have laid out for that child.

Stephanie (08:03):

So a lot of our families, all of our families that we're working with, their kids are anywhere from preschool through middle school aged. Um, right now where these families are at a place where we're all very, very hopeful that there'll be gainfully employed or living on their own as they get older. Is it too early for them to start meeting with somebody and planning for this?

Bryan (08:24):

Absolutely not. I mean, the earlier the better, just because of finding the solutions to their current problems and then anticipating certain scenarios in the future to be ahead of the curve. So for example, we always, our goal is always for our children to be as independent as possible and to be as gainfully employed as possible, not just from a financial picture, but when you're employed and you're with peers, you have a sense of community. You grow friendships, you have long lasting relationships with people that are outside of your family. And that's really what I found is so important for families is you ask the mom, what's the most important thing when you're gone is I don't want my child to be alone. And that really hits home. It's not, I don't want my child to run out of money. It's I don't want my child to do this or that. I don't want them to be alone forgotten. Um, and so having that sense of community and having some peers at work, that's huge and same thing with schooling too, schooling doesn't have to stop, you know, 18 or 21. You can continue on, uh, past that through different, um, college programs. So it's about finding those scenarios. Do we think, you know, at six years old saying, Hey, my child's going to be gainfully employed 18. That's a stretch. You know, you've got two years, 12 years, excuse me. A lot of things can happen between that. But if that's a goal, let's go down that path. What does that lead us to what resources are going to turn on at different times? When should we start anticipating conversations with, you know, job coaching or helping, you know, private tutors at certain ages, they get us, they get the good grades for acceptance into those colleges. So it's never too early to start. And it's never too far off to say, I don't know what's going to happen. Let's let's find out. Cause a lot of times too is for the higher functioning individuals, the parents aren't saying, okay, my, my child doesn't need X, Y, and Z, but it's, I would like to build a parachute that if something happens, they get sick, they're unable to do certain tasks that prevent them from being successful or fully successful. Um, I want to make sure there's a parachute there for them so that their lifestyle isn't changed, just because I neglected to tackle that problem now. So flexibility is key. Everything's going to change. I mean, I told him the plan is you meet with me in January 1st, 2020, January 1st, 2021. It's going to be completely different in 2020 year alone. Definitely we'll show you that. But every year it's something new, uh, you know, progressions in therapies. Maybe not pick it up on certain concepts as quickly as we thought in school. So we're maybe delaying the plan a year or two. There's a lot of things that happen, but it's just all about being flexible and saying, okay, we're going to start here and let's just see where it goes.

Meredith (10:57):

We've talked a lot about looking forward into the future. What kinds of supports can you provide families for the here and now, maybe with their financial needs, with different therapies and private schools and, and all the different costs that come along with raising a child with special needs?

Bryan (11:12):

That's a, that's a good one. That's also, um, a tricky one at times because when the child's younger than 18, a lot of the assistance through the states like Medicaid SSI that we just spoke about Medicaid waivers is another big one. A lot of that, isn't, there's a waiting list for Medicaid waivers, um, many, many, many years. So my first question typically always is, do you have your children are on the waiting list? Yes or no, because if not, that's the highest priority we need to start that clock now. Um, the second is typically when they're younger than 18, parents assets and income come into play. So they're not going to get SSI right off the bat. They're probably not going to get Medicaid right off the bat. Um, so there's, there's a few things there that we've got to take in consideration financially. Um, scholarships, looking at, um, ways of stretching the dollar. Um, one big thing, for example, Parish School. Tuition seven 19 cents now to and from Parish School, any extra curricular costs. If a doctor says, you know, let's just use John, John's going be child's name for example. John needs to go to Parish School to help them, um, progress in their situation. If a physician can write that in a doctor's note, in the file, tuition for Parish School, all of that is a medical tax deduction. So there's are also ways for families to recoup some of those dollars by adding up everything that goes on in that child's life, uh, parking to go downtown to see the doctor, um, any therapies driving to and from meals. Special meals is a big one. We had a family whose daughter has downs syndrome. He's literally younger than 30, but she needed Aqua therapy. So they got, they got a pool. And the doctor wrote a very detailed letter in that pool because most of the services in that pool or what's the intended use of that pool was for Aqua therapy. They just came over three times a week. We were able to write off the cost of that pool on the taxes for 2019 is when we got it. So there's a lot of unique things that we can do from a tax planning strategy as well. There's really good CPAs out there. Sometimes they just need a little nudge. Hey, don't forget to add this up. Don't forget to include this as well. We usually, we're not tax advisors, so we don't fill out your taxes or anything. We do have IRS, um, you know, code. We have a private letter ruling, um, for the family to take to their, their, um, CPA to say, Hey, look, this is what I'm referencing when I claim this deduction. So there's a few things that all depends on the family situation. Every family is completely different and some families have been blessed with not having the stress of financial needs. Other families, you know, we're, we're looking every single day. W when we do work, we can stretch this dollar. So it's going to be unique to that situation. For sure.

Stephanie (13:55):

When I was looking at some of the services you offer, it kept talking about a life care plan. Can you explain what a life care plan is?

Bryan (14:03):

Tinja, do you want to answer this one?

Bryan (14:05):

You're on a roll I'm over here. I'm just like, so when we, when we came in, like, uh, toward Parish, I just, so I also have a sibling, um, my brother, he had a severe speech impediment. So like, when I toured, like, if there had been a school like that available to him, um, like I like literally cried because it was just so like impactful. Um, I mean, he's, he's like a genius, but to be able to have that level of like, um, support and education and approach, like, for me, I'm just like, we're just so happy to have this podcast, sorry. Right. You're on a roll, keep going.

Bryan (14:45):

The life care plan is essentially we take into consideration the child's plan. So it's the financial, the, the tax ramifications of different, um, different scenarios. And so the life care plan is going to take any consideration. So let's just say child's 10 years old. What do we need to do between 10 and 18? You know, what are the goals really objectives is you as the parent, as a sole caretaker, and advocate of your child right now. What do we need to do when we get to 18? It's a big, big year guardianship government assistance. What are we going to do with education? What are we going to do with employment opportunities? So we want to plan years before because at 17, I don't want to stress moms and dads out there saying, okay, we've got to start collecting this. You've got to start having this conversation with this attorney. So we want to make sure everything's coordinated. Um, and when we talk about guardianship and the legal issues, we really are like a macro manager, mean we'll help you interview and that different attorneys for you to make sure that you have guardianship issues taken care of at 18 or beyond, um, that we've got the right trust and wills and legal documents situated the, um, the CPA, making sure again, the taxes, what we just talked about. Um, but everything's coordinated in that we have different times that child's life taken care of and addressed. We're never going to leave you. Um, we want to make sure that we're always open to sit down at the table with you because I found a lot of parents who feel a little overwhelmed, you know, meeting with a lot of different professionals, sitting down across a big office and sitting there and just, okay I'm not sure if I'm answering this right. What do I say, am I, am I doing everything? I want to make sure that we're going to be there for them kind of handholding throughout the process, just so they don't feel left out. Um, and then we make sure that the letter of intent, so a lot of families kind of, might've heard that buzzword before a letter of intent tend to use a really good example. You know, it's like your Bible, what's your child's Bible. What they like, what they don't like, what you want from which you don't want from doctors to avoid the current routine. You know, an example I use is my brother is confined to a bed and confined to a wheelchair. Um, he has to have a certain thread count in his bed sheets, or he gets bed sores. And I would not have known that because he's an adult. He still wears diapers. And so he soils the bed a lot. So I would have just cheapest things. We've got to replace them every two weeks, every month anyway. Well, that doesn't really work for him because of bedsores. And so my mom put that in letter of intent and I read that. I said, well, that's something I learned because I didn't know that I, I was my oldest brother, um, caretaker for my brother and my mom was gone. So I thought I knew my brother for 27 years. It turns out I don't, it turns out a lot of siblings don't either. It's the moms, the dads, please fill out the letter of intent. We make sure that that's solidified. And then we just keep on moving along. So residential options at different ages, um, any health concerns in the family that we should be aware of, that the child might have at 50, at 60, at 70. And what does that long-term plan look like overlapped with the mom's financial plan. So the life care plan just doesn't take into financial considerations. You know, you'll see on some of our, um, literature, we talk about getting you plugged in with, you know, IEP coach and someone to coach you. What's your rights as a parent, we don't do that, but we have professionals that will, um, you know. Benefit planning we do so much, but if there's very, you know, you're having issues with certain Medicaid programs, we've got professionals that specialize in doing benefits, planning for you, that we can turn you over to you and make sure that we solve that problem. So it's all encompassing, everything that you can think about, not just financially and legally, but anything that deals with that child. We want to make sure that you're not getting on Google and just Googling anything because a lot of times it's incorrect information. So a lot of times it's state specific as well. We live in Texas. We don't live in Florida or New York. So you want to make sure you're getting the right information. We want to make sure we pair you with the right professionals. So anything that has to do with that child, that's what a life care plan really is.

Meredith (18:36):

My internet kind of chopped out there. Did you say something about IEP's?

Bryan (18:41):

Yeah. We put that on there for a lot of families that, um, don't quite understand what the IEP process and their ARD meeting is. They don't understand what their rights are as a parent to ask for certain school districts, what they should be getting for their children, the services that should be provided. So we have two or three different professionals that can say, Hey, this is something that you're really worried about going into your first one. Child's really young. We need you, let's go ahead and set a meeting hours. You consultation sit down. So you feel more comfortable and you're not going to feel like this is a lot of times parents. I feel as it's me versus a school of their shake. I'm just having to fight for, by people in the meeting. We don't want that to be that feeling.

Meredith (19:16):

I think that, yeah, I think that's a service that a lot of families maybe don't know exists and would really appreciate. I think IEP is, and our meetings are really overwhelming. And if you don't speak the language of special education and therapy, it can be really confusing. Um, so that's a really, I mean, I think a lot of families and a lot of families don't know that even if they don't attend a public school, that they're entitled to public school services and testing, um, and that they're entitled to IEPs and ARDS. So that I think that service could be really beneficial on hoping that somebody learns about that today and uses it.

Stephanie (19:53):

I also think that it's extremely beneficial to help speak with the CPA. I mean, accounting, when you get into all of these different bills and tax deductions and other things, that's, I mean, that's overwhelming to me. I mean, a lot of parents are so focused in on the right now and homework and the daily grind and the nitty gritty that, you know, adding more and more things on top of it can be really overwhelming, but having a, a go-to point person that can help you get in touch with professionals as a CPA, or to help you with the ARD or different areas, that's a fantastic service for families because you're right there, you're otherwise you're left with Googling. Like you just Google whatever and you're like, I don't know, maybe this person does know what I need. Maybe they don't, I don't know what I need.

Tinja (20:43):

I think about it, like with your therapy plan, uh, to have a team together who works together and is collaborative, you're going to get the best approach. Um, it's great that you can build a community of professionals to support families.

Bryan (20:58):

Yup. And some of the great things that we learned too is obviously the parents that have been doing this a lot longer with older children. They're a great addition to our younger families as well, because they've said like, look, I've been in that school district before. I know, you know, X, Y, and Z is going to happen. Let me help you. Let me guide you. Therapies at different, you know, South Houston's a heck of a lot different than North Houston is a heck of a lot different than West Houston. And so understanding what providers are there, um, to be a part of a few networks, or it's pretty easy just to shoot off an email saying, Hey, a family needs X, Y, and Z. Who's got a therapist, that's got some free time during the week to be able to do this. Do you guys accept this insurance and what not? So there's a lot of flexibility there and every part of town is completely different. And so a family, that's also going to say, Hey, look, I can't find anything to do, you know, any families that are currently getting this right now, do you need professionals that can help me? So yeah, therapies is a big one, especially the younger, the kid. It feels like the more therapies we need to get the child involved with speech, OT and whatnot.

Tinja (21:56):

And then, so I wanted to take it back to the comment about the overwhelmed side of things, because a lot of times when we meet with families initially, and there is a need to have this conversation around planning, it is to take a moment and take, take time to get organized, to even start the planning process is, is overwhelming. Um, so we really tried to make it as simple as possible just to start the analysis side. Um, so I mean, it, you don't want to sit there and go through the weeds of like building out a cashflow analysis and like getting all your statements, but it's mission critical to be able to have that. So if we do have to have like a fire drill, so to speak, we, we have it all organized. So, so when we go and have to have these conversations with the next in line, it really just makes us, makes it that much easier to have already run the analysis, build out the plan, and then we have those easy conversations to, to coordinate. Um, but yeah, it's very overwhelming. I can't imagine taking a moment to also do your, your finances on top of learning, how to be a teacher and managing the household and, uh, you know, your marriage and all the things. Very challenging.

Stephanie (23:05):

So you guys have talked a lot about your own personal connection to this. I also have a very personal connection with this and on my husband's side, that his sibling, one of his siblings is, has cerebral palsy and lives at home with his parents. And I got a small fraction of a taste for this. Luckily, my husband enjoys all of this, but when we went to even go play on our own estate for our children, we had to add in, since my husband is listed as next to take care of his brother. And then we had to have all of the extra information through there. And one of the things I've learned is that there's different trusts for children with special needs than what we had set up for our own children. And I was completely unaware of that going into this. Can you speak a little bit more about the differences in the trust?

Bryan (23:53):

Yeah. So there's typically, um, there's three main types of, of special needs trusts that get brought up in the plan. And we walk through just high level, the ins and outs of each one. So the way we describe it as do you have your first party, which is called a self settled special needs trust. So example would be, um, if I, if I left some money to James, let's just say $10,000, James would have 30 days to spend that money or, um, put it into a, a first party or a self settled, special needs trust to protect benefits. When an individual with special needs comes into assets and has to open up that first for self settled special needs trust. That's great because you preserve benefits. The downside of that is, is when James passes away, Medicaid gets reimbursed through that. Whatever is left in that trust. So sometimes if there's other siblings involved, which typically there are, you're cutting out of the inheritance, what they would receive if something happened to their brother or sister. So we want to be very careful on that planning. Um, third party, special needs trust is the example you just ran through, you know, something happening in your husband and you guys left some type of asset or many assets to his sibling. That would be a third party, third person, someone else leaving assets to that individual. So if I left assets to James. It would go inside of this third party, special needs trust. There is no Medicaid payback. It still preserves benefits for that individual. So in this situation, James, that situation, your brother-in-law, um, and so it would preserve benefits of SSI, Medicaid, any additional assistance through, um, uh, the government or state. There's a third one, not commonly used, but there is a third one called pooled trust. So the Arc of Texas has a pooled trust, which works similarly to a first party trust in the fact that, um, the assets don't really come out to any other beneficiaries afterwards, individual, very low costs. Uh don't remember who the trustee is. It used to be JP Morgan and someone else now. Assets left behind to that full trust when that individual passes away, those assets stay inside that pool trust to utilize for other individuals, other expenses and whatnot. Um, so it's not very common. Typically if there's siblings, we're trying to say, well, just get the third party trust, establish it, put $5 in it, just leave it alone. And then we'll, we'll retitle all your life insurance, your 401ks, your other assets, your investments, the proper way. Um, those are that's high level, very basic trust conversation get a lot more granular because there's a lot of families here might be business owners might have rental property, plan, ranch. It's a little bit more complicated. Um, the more detailed the mom and dad's financial plan is.

Tinja (26:41):

We have our whole workshop to it.

Meredith (26:47):

So tell us about your workshops. Are they open to the community? Can anybody attend them and how do they work? You want me to go and run?

Tinja (26:56):

Um, so, um, workshops, we have about 10 different different ones just because everything that we do is so dynamic. Um, so everything from the 10 basics, financial steps for caregivers to the granularity of, um, government benefits to the trusts, um, talking about trustee options and all those different dynamics. So yes, we do monthly workshops open to the public. I primarily promote through social media and through our newsletter and then, um, through my contacts at different organizations, but we've also been asked to come in and deliver workshops for organizations specifically. Um, so obviously we would love to come and do that for your parents if that's available. Um, but, um, so they're an hour long. Um, we give handouts, um, and so it's just really interactive. We've been able to, to maintain quality through the virtual platforms as well.

Meredith (27:57):

Great. It's a great resource.

Stephanie (28:00):

Are there any key points that you guys think we might not have, have hit? We're sneaking up on 30 minutes. So any big things we need to hit?

Tinja (28:08):

Bryan, you want to talk about menu of service in the pyramid?

Bryan (28:13):

Yeah, so, um, I guess like the two major ways that we work. So going a bit, again, back to the personal side of things, my mom being a teacher in Aldine raising three boys, she wasn't given this, this opportunity to plan correctly and plan early enough for James. Um, and so we offer what we call it, just the foundation with plan, which is very, very basic, but it's enough to learn. One, we quantify the child's needs. Two, we review the documents. Three, we'd find a way of funding that deficit. If there is one, um, family letter for the families just saying, Hey, we established this trust. Please don't leave any money to this individual. If you would like to leave a legacy or, you know, a portion of your assets, this is how you would do it. Very, very high level. We don't charge for that. And the reason is, is to, I truly believe that every single family that has a child with special needs needs, at least a foundation plan, just information, high level review. So they're informed of what's going to happen. Um, but we're not going to force them to go through the full planning process with us. We understand life's crazy and 2020 is a perfect example of that. We do offer a more comprehensive plan, uh, for all of our families. And that's when we walk through mom and dad's financial plan, uh, lately, um, a lot of divorce planning for families, making sure child support's correctly established and things are taken care of, um, business succession planning for the families that have small businesses, but they also have a child with special needs. How does that work? Um, and then we work on the financial side of the state plan along with the full comprehensive life care plan. So going through not just the funding mechanisms and the financial side of things, but also like we talked about the coaching, the additional support, the benefits of the therapies. Um, so we work in those two ways. The more comprehensive side, we just charge a one-time, which is kind of crazy to some families, but just a one-time fee of 1500. And so that's for life, you'll get us, we'll always do the planning for you guys. Um, and then we work well with the attorneys that they currently have. So they've got current estate attorneys. If they've got, um, financial professionals that they, you know, best friend, brother, sister. They don't want to leave them. That's fine. We can help coach them on what needs to be implemented and how, so those are the two different ways, um, that we work with the families from the initial start. Is there anything I don't think we really missed on?

Meredith (30:35):

I learned a lot. Well, do you wanna, um, do you want to do our final question?

Stephanie (30:47):

So at the end of every episode, we ask our guests to give us one piece of advice and it can be specific to the topic today, financial planning, or it can just be your favorite piece of advice that you've heard, like, you know, eat your broccoli, listen to your mother, anything like that advice, what would you give to our listeners?

Tinja (31:14):

We're putting you on the spot. I love it. Um, so I think, um, the one thing that has always resonated with me is that, you know, that one tough thing that you avoid, like there's no better opportunity than to tackle that today. Um, so for me, it's like my, yeah, just tackle it today. There's no better time.

Bryan (31:37):

So one thing that I've, I tell all my families, and this is just something that I've realized going through this process with my own mom, um, is you as a parent, whether you're married or you're a single parent raising a child with special needs, um, no one is ever going to love your baby more than you. No one's ever going to advocate for your, your baby more than you. I love my brother to death. I would, I would die for my brother, but there's just this love between him and my mom that I can't replace. And so Tinja and I really, we look at that with every single family. And what we try to do is we tell them we can't replace that it's impossible, but we need to attempt to do the best we can. Um, and I say that to tell families, don't be afraid to have this conversation with your family members, with your closest friends, with professionals that you trust, because we have to replicate that and you not being in the picture and us picking up the pieces, that's just going to be bad for everyone involved. And so if you really, really love your child, we know you do, and you're the Superman and the super dad start having those conversations. Don't be afraid to talk to the siblings, your other children. Uh, it's never too late to kind of just start teasing them with information, teasing them responsibility because eventually that day is going to come where brother and sister is going to have to step in, aunt, uncle best friend, you know, your neighbor, whoever's going to have to step in to replace you. We've got to do the best we can. So start having that conversation soon.

Stephanie (33:05):

That's fantastic advice for all parents. I have so many friends who have children and haven't, you know, put together a will or a financial plan or other things, Meredith. You know, it's just for really bad things to happen, but it's really uncomfortable. Then when you have to add in talking about money or, you know, the idea that same thing, my mother-in-law has dedicated her life. And she takes amazing care of my brother-in-law. And it is an emotionally hard conversation for her to talk about plans for when she physically can't take care of him anymore, because it is not going to be any level of love. And nobody wants to think about who's going to help take care of their child or how they're going to financially continue to afford, you know, things like therapies and specialty schools or job coaches as they move on when they get older but it's so important. You love them enough to set it up ahead of time and then hope that you never ever have to use it.

Meredith (34:12):

Yes, absolutely. To be fair. I'm stuck between the everyday getting through the quicksand, families, sorry, my internet is so bad, but you're right.

Stephanie (34:27):

Families do get stuck with the, in the weeds. Yeah. They get stuck. And then this is something that's, it's emotional. Yeah.

Meredith (34:34):

Yeah. You're stuck. It's emotional. It's a big decision. I mean, is it a big decision. That's where I get stuck is where, what, who, you know, those are really hard decisions. So, um, I love your advice. I think it's great advice and I have the rest of the day off, and maybe I should think about taking your advice.

Bryan (34:54):

Have these conversations for sure.

Tinja (35:00):

So, it's funny because people ask us, ask us like what, what we do. And rather than going into a deep dive response, I say we specialize in tough conversations because it is, it is tough. It is it's, it's uncomfortable, but it has to get done. Um, and we, we really try to streamline our entire process and walk you through so that you're not making decisions in a silo. You have a full understanding of what, what the, the matter is at hand and you can make an educated choice. We'll always, um, explain the recommendations, but ultimately it's going to be your choice in the end.

Stephanie (35:36):

Yeah, that's fantastic. I truly appreciate the services out there.

Meredith (35:41):

Yeah. Thank you guys so much. I learned a lot today.

Tinja (35:43):

Thank you for having us.

Bryan (35:46):

This was fun.

Tinja (35:48):

I like your process.