Advising Special Needs

Demand for specialized financial advice is on the rise

St. Paul, Minnesota, October 24, 2014 – The demand for financial advice for special needs families rises as special needs children’s lifespans lengthen and the frequency of some developmental disabilities grows.

For example, life expectancy for people with Down Syndrome rose from 25 years in 1983 to 60 years today, as stated in Down Syndrome Facts from the National Down Syndrome Society, The incidence of autism among children age 3-17 rose nearly 300 percent from 1999 to 2008, and the incidence of any kind of developmental disability rose 17 percent during the same period, according to Developmental Disabilities Increasing in US, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

Looking for guidance

More than ever, parents are looking for ways to ensure a high quality of life for their special children well into the future. But caregiving may leave time for little else and creating a long-term strategy looms as a daunting task.

Financial advisors are well-positioned to help manage the planning process and develop a plan that covers every foreseeable eventuality. A comprehensive program that provides guidance for financial advisors and their clients helps ensure that the child’s finances are handled correctly over the years and the parents’ instructions for care are followed.

“A special needs plan extends far beyond the financial component,” said Channing Schmidt, senior advanced marketing counsel, Securian Financial Group. “Parents are well-advised to create a team of experts and caregivers who understand the child’s financial and lifestyle needs and will help establish a plan for living that matches the parents’ wishes. A well-informed financial advisor with access to a comprehensive planning tool can help the family with all of that.”

Special needs trust expectancy for people with Down Syndrome rose from 25 years in 1983 to 60 years today

One key financial element of such a plan may be to fund a trust with life insurance. When the parents pass away, the death benefits from the life insurance can help fund the child’s future needs.

The selection of the trustee for any trust is critical. “The first inclination is to put a family member or trusted friend in charge of the trust,” said Schmidt. “But managing a large sum of money more often is best left to professional asset managers. A corporate trustee helps ensure continuity over the decades and can help carry out the parents’ wishes as described in the letter of intent.”

The parents write the letter of intent – with assistance from trusted advisors and caregivers – that clearly describes how the child should be cared for. It helps the trustee and future caregivers understand the parents’ wishes as they make critical decisions about the child’s welfare and lifestyle.





Since 1880, Securian Financial Group and its affiliates have provided financial security for individuals and businesses in the form of insurance, investments and retirement plans. Now one of the nation’s largest life insurance groups, it is the holding company parent of several companies. Insurance products are issued by Minnesota Life Insurance Company and Securian Life Insurance Company, a New York authorized insurer. Both are headquartered in Saint Paul, Minnesota and each insurer is solely responsible for the financial obligations under the policies and contracts it issues. Product availability and features may vary by state.