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Financial Planning for Special Needs

Financial Planning for Special Needs

June 15, 2017

As an attorney focusing on serving clients with special needs, I understand how important it is to work with an expert who understands your unique situation. That’s why I’ve partnered with Joel Harworth, an independent financial advisor for clients with special needs. Joel and his team at provide special needs financial planning in collaboration with our team.

Children with special needs may require lifetime financial assistance, which can necessitate that parents prepare for their child’s care after they are gone, or are unable to care for him or her any longer. Parents have to think about the potential needs of their surviving child. Will he or she require daily custodial care? Ongoing medical treatments? Will their child live alone or in a group home? Can the family assume some of the care?

Joel and his team can help answer these and other questions can help form the vision of what may need to be done to plan for your child’s care.

Financial Planning Strategies

Financial planning for special needs situations typically require a combination of strategies. It’s important to consider the pros and cons of each strategy and how they affect one another.

Government Programs

Supporting lifetime needs can be expensive and overwhelming. One funding source is government benefits, which your child may qualify for when he or she becomes an adult via Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.

Special Needs Trusts

Because such government programs have low asset thresholds for qualification, you may want to consider whether to make property transfers to your special needs child. Another option is a special needs trust, the assets of which can be structured to fund your child’s care without disqualifying him or her from government assistance.

529(a) Accounts

The ABLE Act that Congress passed in December of 2014 established 529(a) accounts as a way to save towards caring for those with special needs without risking government assistance. They are modeled after 529 college savings plans, though there are some key differences.

Families can open a 529(a) account for anyone that meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of disabled or is blind. Like their college-savings counterparts, 529(a) accounts are established by individual states. A beneficiary can only have one account, but they are allowed to open it with any state. That is helpful because since they are so new, not all states are even offering accounts yet and it provides many more investment options.

Contributions to a 529(a) plan are capped at $14,000 per beneficiary, in total from all sources. While contributions are made with after-tax dollars, all investment growth is tax-free. When used to pay for qualified expenses, withdrawals are tax-free as well. Qualified expenses include things such as housing, transportation, healthcare, wellness, and education. Any other withdrawals are subject to a 10% penalty and earnings are taxed at normal income tax rates.

How to Learn More

Planning for a special needs child can be complicated, confusing, and even overwhelming. It is wise to consult with an experienced professional when considering special needs planning. To learn more, contact Joel Harworth at or  909.981.1720.

About Joel Harworth

Special Needs Financial Planner 909.981.1720

Joel joined 1on1financial in April 2016. He comes with over 16 years of experience in the Financial Services field. Joel’s previous experience was in credit unions where he provided financial advice as well as providing exceptional service. His banking experience provides additional expertise when discussing loans and banking products as part of the overall financial plan. He comes highly experienced in investment management, insurance, special needs planning, and estate planning. Joel’s passion for helping his clients achieve their goals comes through in every meeting.

Joel was born and raised in Southern California. He attended the University of La Verne where he completed his degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. While attending La Verne, he competed on the Men’s Volleyball team, leading them to the National Championship game his senior year. After graduation, he came back to help the investment classes start an investment fund that the current students managed.

Joel loves spending time with his wife Kim and his 5-year-old twin boys, Wyatt and Justin. The family loves beach days and weekend trips to the mountains. Joel enjoys being active by working out, mountain biking and playing sports with his boys. Joel and Kim are very active at their church. Kim works in the Children’s Ministry as she loves kids. Joel helps with cooking for large church events. But Joel’s favorite pastime is playing golf. He has had the privilege of playing in several Champions tour pro-ams and playing with some of the Remax World Long Drive winners and contestants (the longest drivers of the golf ball in the world).