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Your Pre-Call Assignment
Hey there. My name is Phillip Clark, co-founder of ENABLE Special Needs Planning, along with my wife and business partner, Chelsea Clark.
If you're checking out this page right now it's because you have a Strategy Session booked with our team to see if our special needs planning process is a good match for you and your family.
Before we reconnect 1on1, what I'm going to do for you here are a couple of things:
First... I'm going to show you how we developed a collaborative planning process that enables families to sleep better at night and be more present during the day because they no longer wonder what would happen to their child if something happened to them
And I'm going to show you how you can create a plan that enables your entire family to live a freer, less stress-filled life today...
Even if you don't know exactly what your son or daughter's future is going to look like tomorrow.
Then, I'm going to show you how best to prepare for your upcoming call with me.
At the bottom of this page, we've given you access to a few additional resources that we feel will be helpful to you and your journey.
The first thing that's important to understand is that not only have we developed a special needs planning process that allows our family to feel certain about my sister Sarah's future and to relax knowing we have a plan that works no matter what happens...
We've also helped over 200 families across America prepare and protect their family's futures over the past 6 years…
As you can see from this sample of testimonials our clients have shared with us:
This is the Kessler family.
Before they started working with our team, they had no plan for their daughter's long-term care and no idea about how to start developing a plan to get there...
Within a year of working with us they now have financial and legal plans in place that ensure their daughter is cared for throughout her entire lifetime.
On her Facebook profile, Emily shared that after a recent meeting with our team, she had tears in her eyes from the gratitude she had for the way our team at ENABLE saw and cared for her family.
She felt like we were truly in her corner -- praying for her family, talking through financial and personal decisions, holding their hands as they work to get their legal affairs in order, and celebrating with them as they saw movement toward their goals.
This is the Shelor family.
When they found our team they felt hopeless trying to plan for their young son's future.
After a few months working with our team, Lauren shared this post on her Instagram account saying she had HOPE around the topic of planning for the first time in her life.
She said the weighty burden of all those deeply engrained fears about planning for the future lifted from her.
At the end of the day what her soul has craved the most has been peace of mind.
She said she truly feels that the Lord led her family to our team and she's so grateful.
This is another one of the families we serve... here's John and Carly Durham.
They tried to start planning by going to Google and searching for answers but every search left them feeling more overwhelmed.
They'd adopted two children with special needs and didn't know where to turn for help regarding their family's future plans.
No one seemed to understand their unique situation or even really listen to them about what they wanted and needed.
By partnering with our team at ENABLE, they were able to put together a plan for not only their children's futures -- but also their entire family.
They now have a relationship that they can rely on to give them sound advice in so many areas of their lives.
They were thrilled to discover that ENABLE's philosophy around special needs planning focuses equally on allowing them to live their best lives today -- as it does on preparing for the future.
All together, we've helped over 200 families nationwide develop special needs plans that give them a sense of security today and peace of mind about the future.
When Becca Kempson found our team she was going through a difficult transition in her life and her future felt hopeless.
She was skeptical that our team or planning could help her.
But after collaborating with ENABLE, she has the clarity she was searching for.
She told us she feels like our team is part of her family now -- we're her go to trusted resource for every decisions she has to make for her family's future.
The process you're about to see right now -- not only has it worked incredibly well for our family -- we've replicated it with our clients and it's worked incredibly well for them, too.
So what I'm going to show you is exactly how that works and how the families we serve are accomplishing such amazing results easily and efficiently with our team's guidance and support.
Before jumping into all of that, what I'm going to do now is show you the backstory of how our planning process came to be and how it's helped so many families across America sleep better at night and be more present during the day since they're no longer wondering about what would happen to their child in the future if something happened to them.
When I was only four years old my younger sister, Sarah, was born. And just like so many families I’ve talked to over the years, my parents didn’t get a "Congratulations" from her doctors.
Instead, my parents heard, "I’m sorry—I think your daughter has Down syndrome."
Sarah’s early years were filled with professionals telling my parents what to expect from her life:
• Heart Problems
• Thyroid Problems
• Learning disabilities
• the list of negatives went on and on….
And the daunting number of doctors appointments and therapies started….
We lived in a small farming community about two hours from Indianapolis, IN, and most of her therapies and doctors appointments were located there.
So I often joke that it seemed like we lived in a minivan—with all of the appointments we had to go to for Sarah. At each appointment, the list of limited expectations just kept growing.
Overwhelmed didn’t even begin to describe how my parents felt during those early years.
There were so many emotional conversations, filled with tears and fears about Sarah’s future.
Years went by and, honestly, Sarah was thriving compared to the limited expectations that my parents had worried about.
Sure, life was challenging, but she was defying the odds and doing better than we'd expected from those early warnings.
However, as we grew up, the difficult and emotional conversations continued.
But now they were about what Sarah’s future was going to look like – and how to get prepared for whatever lay ahead.
Honestly, I felt like these conversations made my parents more afraid and emotional than earlier discussions of possible open-heart surgeries.
In these family discussions about Sarah's future—there never seemed to be answers.
My parents tried to be proactive in these challenges.
So many times, a babysitter would come to our house because my parents had another evening or Saturday afternoon planning seminar.
But these events never seemed to provide them with the answers they were seeking or a sense of relief from their fears about Sarah's future.
Eventually, my parents were told they needed a 'special needs plan' for Sarah.
So they found an attorney who drafted a Special Needs Trust.
And they met with a local insurance agent to talk about how to fund Sarah’s trust in the future.
After what seemed like countless meetings and deep conversations, my parents signed some papers and wrote quite a few checks.
Then the professionals shook my parents’ hands and stopped coming to our home.
As a teenager, I thought, "It’s finally over.
Finally, my parents won’t be so stressed all the time."
However... I can’t say my parents ever really seemed at peace.
Sure, they’d done what they were told to do and set up a 'special needs plan' for Sarah’s future.
But not only did questions about Sarah’s future still come up frequently, now my parents were asking things like:
"Did we do the right thing?"
"How would we know?" and
"Is there more we should be doing to plan for Sarah’s future?"
When I was deciding what I wanted to do with my future and how I wanted to make a difference, it always came back to Sarah… and my parents’ experience trying to do everything to give her the best possible future.
I knew there had to be a better way to do 'special needs planning' than what my parents had experienced.
There had to be a process that actually provided a sense of security and peace of mind.
Security and peace of mind were two things my parents seemed to lack even after completing their 'special needs planning' journey.
So I decided to go into financial planning to help families, much like ours, prepare for the future.
I joined a firm that said they did special needs planning.
And I was so excited about it.
However, I quickly discovered a couple problems with the firm's overall approach to planning:
- I realized that the conversations, the solutions, and the strategies they offered were the same with every family we talked to. It was a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to planning for the future for every individual with special needs.
- An even bigger problem from my perspective, was that 'special needs planning' was only focused on when my parents--and other parents--passed away.
I’m not saying that what would happen to Sarah when my parents died wasn't something that we worried about.
Just like I’m sure this is something that you worry about.
But as a proud big brother, I looked at that traditional approach to planning and said:
"I believe that special needs planning should be focused on allowing my sister--and your child--to live a happy, fulfilling, and purposeful life TODAY... and every day in the future. And this plan has to work no matter what life throws at us."
After being affiliated with three different planning firms that all claimed to do 'special needs planning' but didn't offer custom plans and only focused on what happens when the parents are gone, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to change the traditional planning firms.
But I certainly could change the conversations that I was having with the families I was serving.
I wanted to help families create unique plans--tailored to THEIR child's specific needs and goals--that would ultimately give the entire family a sense of security today and peace of mind that they were doing everything possible to plan for an abundant future.
The sense of security and peace of mind that I desperately wished my parents had had years ago.
That's when I founded my organization:
ENABLE Special Needs Planning
Traditional Planning Process
If you’ve started your special needs planning journey more than likely you’ve been exposed to what I like to call the 'traditional planning process.'
According to Google, the most commonly searched term that relates to special needs planning is:
Special Needs Trust
That is what we are told is the biggest piece of a special needs plan.
A Special Needs Trust gives you a vehicle to put money into so that your son or daughter doesn’t lose government benefits.
And that is absolutely an important part of the planning journey—not losing those essential resources and services.
Once you set up your Special Needs Trust, most of the time, it doesn’t get pre-loaded with money in it.
When you create a Special Needs Trust what you really have is an empty shell of a trust agreement.
So the next question becomes, how are we going to fund our trust?
Most families don’t have an extra couple million dollars just lying around that they can deposit into their son or daughter's Special Needs Trust.
So taking out a life insurance policy is often a strategy used to fund the trust in the future.
This is a very effective and efficient way to make sure there will be enough money for your child no matter what happens.
So this is the Traditional Planning Process:
A Special Needs Trust coupled with a life insurance policy
And I’m certainly not saying that these two things shouldn’t be part of your family's special needs plan.
As I mentioned earlier, my parents are using both of these strategies in Sarah's plan and it’s likely that these two elements may fit well into your plan, too.
But let me ask you a few questions...
- Does a Special Needs Trust and a life insurance policy solve all of your problems?
- Does this type of plan answer all of your questions about what your child’s future is going to be like?
- Does this version of special needs planning provide you with a sense of security today and peace of mind about the future?
As I already told you, my parents never really stopped worrying about Sarah’s future... even after they had this portion of her plan in place.
Going a step further...
If we think about this as a standalone plan--a Special Needs Trust and a life insurance policy--what has to happen to you for this plan to go into effect?
You have to die.
Is that really the only thing you want to plan for?
Don’t get me wrong.
Planning for the 'What Ifs...' in life are essential.
We need to prevent any future assets or inheritance from disrupting your child’s government benefits.
But to me, for my family, for my sister, special needs planning needed to be so much more than that.
So if you're currently feeling uneasy about your son or daughter's special needs plan AND you've approached planning in this traditional way...
That’s likely the reason you still have questions, doubts, and fears.
From my experience growing up with Sarah--I get it.
Special Needs Planning has to be much better.
Planning needs to be centered on making sure your entire family, including your child, can have a secure future.
Your family’s Special Needs Planning journey should be designed to give you the peace of mind that you are doing EVERYTHING in your power to create an abundant future for your loved one—and an abundant future for your entire family.
Every family needs a plan specifically tailored to them.
The specific strategies that make up your family's special needs plan have to be unique to you, your goals, and your challenges.
However, there are 4 KEY components that every family’s plan must address.
And our team has developed a collaborative planning process that helps families easily and efficiently create a plan that addresses these 4 components.
So again, what I'm going to show you next is exactly how that process works.
If you're watching this and you'd like to develop a plan for your entire family -- focused on your loved one with special needs -- that gives you a sense of security today and peace of mind about the future...
This might just be the key that helps you do that.
ENABLE Planning Process
The image above is a drawing of our special needs planning process.
One of the things you might notice right away is that it's incredibly simple.
I don't want the simplicity to fool you -- it's incredibly effective.
Over the past 6 years we've tested adding other components to this process--like government benefits consulting, IEP coaching, life skills coaching, job training, etc.--to try to find something that would better serve the families we work with.
And we've determined that this is the best process to help families easily and efficiently create a foundational plan that lets them:
- Sleep better at night, and
- Be more present during the day.
...because they no longer wonder what would happen to their child if something happened to them.
Once this foundation is laid, then the fun part begins!
Then, we can plan for abundance, we can plan for opportunities, we can plan for success and fulfillment.
But first, we need to get a plan in place that protects your child’s future no matter what.
The first component of the ENABLE process is vision alignment.
The vision alignment process is designed to help you clarify what success looks like for yourself, for your family, for all your kids, and most importantly for your child with special needs.
There are 3 time horizons to think about as you’re clarifying your goals:
- Short-term (i.e., moving into a new house within a better school district)
- Mid-term (i.e., planning for college or post high school opportunities)
- Long-term (i.e., planning for independent living and your own retirement)
I’d argue that vision alignment is the most important part of every plan.
What's your vision for the future?
What does success look like for your child?
What does peace of mind look like for you?
Until you get clear about WHY you’re planning it’s nearly impossible to make progress.
Your plan will change over time.
What doesn't change -- is your WHY for planning.
We planned so that my sister Sarah could have every opportunity to be impactful and thrive in whatever she loves doing.
Before we can talk about all the other components of special needs planning -- financial planning, SNTs, ABLE Accounts, your estate plan, government benefits, guardians, trustees, future care teams...
You have to get clarity around your vision of success – for you, your child, and your entire family.
Once you have a clear vision of what you're trying to get accomplished, then you can begin putting strategies in place that allow for your vision of success to become a reality.
With most of your biggest goals (i.e., retirement, a new home, college, funding your Special Needs Trust), it’s going to take intentional Financial Planning to accomplish them.
Financial planning consist of three main elements:
- Get organized– organize your family’s financial data. In order to know what to put into place, you have to be organized to know where you are starting from.
- Protect your family- and protect your child's future security. Your child's plan for a great future has to work under all circumstances. We've got to protect that.
- Grow your assets- we know that opportunities and experiences in life are expensive. You must wisely grow your assets in a way that will give you the ability to say "Yes" to opportunities for your child and your entire family.
After you’ve determined the financial strategies needed to accomplish the goals you envisioned, a properly structured estate plan will protect your entire family--including your child with special needs' future--from so many things that are out of our control.
Legal Planning includes:
- Estate Plan- establishing wills, trusts, powers of attorney, special needs trust, etc. We must have these important documents drafted in order to give you the peace of mind that no matter what happens to you, your assets will be directed in the exact way that you intend. Most of our families want their assets to be a blessing and be a support to their family.
- We must name your child's future support team- guardians/back up guardians, trustees/backup trustees, trust protector... and so many more. Who will be the team to give love, care, and support to your child no matter what?
Finally, there are people in your life who need to understand what their role in your plan looks like TODAY... and what their roles and responsibilities could be in the future.
Communicating your plan in an easy to understand way is an essential step in your family's special needs planning journey.
- Letter of Intent- If you were gone for a long weekend, or if a more permanent transition happened, would the people on your child's future support team know everything that you know about your child? Likes/dislikes, food allergies, medications, government benefits information...the list goes on. Instead of handing you a blank legal pad to write all of this down, we guide you through creating this important document and enable you to easily update it as details change over time.
- Family Meeting- We help you coordinate a meeting with your key family members, friends, and support team so you can effectively communicate the details of your family's plan for the future and get everyone on the same page.
While the specific details and strategies that make up your family’s special needs plan will be tailored to YOU, every family needs to have intentional conversations and make plans in each of these four areas.
Your 2 Options
Now every family has 2 different options to create a special needs plan.
The first option is to do your research, gather resources, talk to a bunch of experts, and then piece together your plan on your own.
We call this the DIY approach -- and it can work.
This is what my family did 30 years ago when they were planning for Sarah's future when they didn't have any other options.
But it takes time to learn about and understand all the complexities involved in planning financially and legally for your loved one.
And then you also need to develop and implement the right strategies to provide your son or daughter with the financial resources he or she needs to live a great life while shielding assets so they don't lose access to their vital government benefits.
Making decisions about guardianship vs. powers of attorney vs. supported decision-making is complicated.
As is developing a future support team that understands your vision of success for your loved one and who will play key roles in the future -- like that of guardian, trustee, or care taker.
And communicating all the details of your family's financial and legal plans in a way that everyone understands their roles and are on the same page can be difficult.
At the end of the day, DIY planning takes a lot of time and effort on your part.
It was overwhelming, frustrating, and confusing for my parents.
And even after they pieced together a plan for Sarah's future, they never really felt confident that their plan was going to work.
They were always left wondering about what would happen to Sarah in the future if something happened to them.
So, the DIY method, while possible, is NOT our preferred method.
(If, after your upcoming Strategy Session with ENABLE, you decide to go this route, we can certainly provide you with resources and help you get started with your planning journey.)
The second option -- that we highly recommend -- is to develop your special needs plan collaboratively with a team of experts who can guide you through a proven process.
There are a lot of advantages to working with a team of professionals that the DIY approach just doesn't have going for it.
At ENABLE, we have special needs consultants, CFPs, financial planners, and estate planning attorneys on our team who work together to guide families through their planning journeys.
These professionals understand the complexities of your family's special needs plan.
Every day -- they help families think through and make difficult planning-related decisions.
They know the rules & regulations around planning financially and legally for a loved one with special needs.
They can guide you to developing the best strategies for your family.
Our planning professionals can help you make wise decisions about who should serve as your child’s future support team (e.g., guardians, trustees, caregivers).
And they can help make it easy for these people to say “YES” to serving in these essential roles & help you educate your child's care team on the key responsibilities of their vital roles in your plan.
As I mentioned before, my parents had to DIY their plan for Sarah's future because I was only a child when they began their planning journey and neither ENABLE nor our collaborative planning process existed back then.
My parents planning journey took a lot of time and effort and never really gave them the peace of mind they were seeking that allowed them to sleep soundly at night or be completely present during the day because the "What Ifs..." were always top of mind.
In contrast, our client Beth Hoffman, who suffered a mild stroke not long after planning with our team, told us that she was very glad to have partnered with ENABLE because, if she had died, all of the details for her daughter's life and future were in place.
And the Capecci family loves working with our team because we've helped them prepare for a bright future for their son, enabling him to live his best life to his fullest potential.
Now some people (and this might be you), may be thinking...
Isn't collaborating with a team of professionals like those at ENABLE really expensive?
And the answer to that question is NO.
Sure, if you were to DIY your own team of experts -- financial planners, attorneys, special needs consultants...
Hire them all individually to guide you step by step through your planning journey...
That would get incredibly expensive really quickly.
The average hourly rate for an estate planning attorney alone ranges from $300-$700 depending on where you live.
And developing a plan that gives you certainty about your child's future takes time to create.
But the beauty of of collaborating with ENABLE to complete your planning is that we've brought all of the key planning professionals together for you.
We've already negotiated all the rates and fees involved in planning for your family's future.
You don't have to interview a dozen different professionals to determine their competency to help you.
...And then try to find a way to pay for all their billable hours.
While at the same time, hoping that at the end of your planning journey, all the individual pieces that these various, expensive experts develop...
Actually fit together and are working toward your ultimate goals for your entire family... including your child with special needs.
Our professionals collaborate with your family -- and with each other -- throughout your entire planning journey.
There's one flat fee when you partner with our team so there won't be any unexpected surprises.
As I said before, we developed a collaborative planning process that enables families to stop wondering about would happen to their child if something happened to them.
If you choose to follow our proven process you, too, can create a plan that enables your entire family to live a freer, less stress-filled life today.
Even if you don't know exactly what your son or daughter's future is going to look like tomorrow.
And again, you can determine on our upcoming call whether or not our team and our process are a good match for you and your family.
We will dive much deeper into the challenges you are facing in getting a plan put in place and also dive deeper into the details of what our planning process looks like.
So to best prepare for the call you're about to hop on, we recommend...
How To Prepare For Your Upcoming Session
Please Be In A Quiet Place
→ No distractions
→ Don’t be on the road
→ Let the kids/family/dog know you have an important meeting
Bring Pen & Paper To Take Notes
→ During your session, we’ll ensure you have complete & total understanding of how our planning process works
Have A Question Or Two Prepared
→ During your session, we’ll open up space for you to ask us questions – to provide complete clarity about our team, process, & program
→ So feel free to prepare a few questions in advance
Take Advantage Of The Additional Resources Below
Does the ENABLE approach to Special Needs Planning really work?
As a consulting organization...
...you are judged by one, single metric:
"The success of the families you serve."
Below you'll find ENABLE reviews and success stories from families who've chosen to partner with our team of expert Special Needs Consultants to create plans that provide their families with a sense of security today and peace of mind about the future.
We will let this information stand for itself. And yes, results will vary.
Name: Josh & Heather Avis
Name: Emily & Robert Kessler
Name: Lauren & Katlin Shelor
Name: John & Carly Durham
Name: Becca Kempson
Name: Beth Hoffman
Name: Ryan & Lilly Capecci
Name: Terah Romero
Name: Robyn Sandberg
Location: New York
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