Attn: Families with a

Special-needs Member!

I know how stressful it can be. I'm here
 to help you through the process.

Learn My 9 Steps to Reducing Stress, Preserving Benefits & Creating a Fulfilling Future.

I will show you the building blocks to financial freedom for families with a special-needs member.

Your guide,
Learn how to be in control of your finances and your future!Sign up for my Top Tips Right Now!


Design Your Future

Can one hour change your life? Special needs planning starts when you make the decision to take action to improve your life. Many steps in planning are actually simple once you’ve set your heart and mind on living a better, happier and stress-free life. There are many people who can help you build financial security and protecting benefits through good estate planning but none of them can help until you’ve made the decision to move forward.

Life comes at families like ours too fast. It’s easy for months and years to go by without feeling like there’s been any progress in our goals. That feeling changes when you have outcomes in mind and when you’ve taken steps to achieve those outcomes.

We have appointments with doctors, therapists, school administrators and agencies in addition to everything else we do with our work and family lives. Creating a vision of what we want to happen helps us remember why we do what we do and can turn those appointments from drains to steps along the path towards achieving better outcomes.

Pro tip

Block off your calendar for one hour and head to a local coffee shop or park bench. Write down everything you want out of life, your goals and what needs to take place for you to live with less stress and more enjoyment. Don’t stop yourself – just write down every thought.

Create a Special-needs Trust

The special-needs trust is a planning tool that can create funds to provide a high quality of life for your family member that do not count towards the $2,000 limit. The trust can be used to add enjoyment and improve life – it can be used from everything from clothing to cars, from cell phones to sneakers.

This crucial tool is there in case of the unexpected – any share of your estate to benefit your family member with a qualifying disability will likely go to the special-needs trust. This keeps money from being in their name. If you own a home, have retirement savings, life insurance or a bank account, it’s likely you have more than $2,000.

The trust gets set up when you handle the rest of your estate plan. Your attorney gives you a will that says where your money and assets go, appoints guardians if needed and usually includes documents giving someone else financial and medical powers if you become incapacitated. Most families will not fund a trust until someone dies – it’s sitting there like an empty bucket to be filled through an estate.

Pro tip

You can get this in place in the next 30 days by being prepared. Most of your decisions are naming the right people. See my video series to get started.

Reach Financial Stability

Families with money in emergency funds live with less stress. They do not have to worry about having enough money if the car battery dies or if they have to take a rushed trip to visit a sick family member. It’s likely you have higher medical costs than usual and sometimes there’s a crisis demanding quick action. Having easy access to cash means you can focus on the issues in front of you without adding the worry about how it will get paid.

Emergency funds protect against major life changes, like losing a job or an illness. We don’t choose these events; they find us. By having money ready to go, these events can be handled without the additional burden of having to use credit to keep a house and feed the family.

Next step? Put money into escrow funds for future needs. Save some money each month for your next car. Put money aside for presents for the holidays and birthdays. Money for camps, education and other expenses that come just a few times per year can be saved into an account so it’s there when needed.

Pro tip

Financial planners recommend that you keep three to six months of basic family expenses in your emergency funds. These need to be kept somewhere you can get to easily – likely the same bank or credit union where you have your checking accounts.

Eliminate Debt

Debt creates stress. It takes away options. It means making payments to an impersonal company instead of into your own accounts. For some, it means constant harassment from collection agencies. Families with a special-needs member need every penny to save for a person who might have limited access to jobs.

Getting out of debt takes persistence and patience. It means focusing on spending less than you earn and putting the extra to credit cards, second mortgages, student loans and car loans. None of it sounds fun but all of it is important if you want your future to be fulfilling.

Imagine a world where the only payments you make are to your savings, investment and retirement accounts and one where you spend money without thinking what it will cost later. It’s a good feeling. That car and home are all yours. That vacation can be enjoyed knowing it’s paid for. Financial freedom jumps and you can start to focus on paying for the future you want.

Pro tip

List all your debts in one place with the amount owed, the monthly payment and interest rate. Pay off the lowest balance first while still making minimum payments everywhere else.

Fund a Trust

In my planning process, special-needs trusts do not get funded while you are alive. You create the trust as part of your estate plan, but no money goes into it for now. This strategy gives you more choice about what assets to put into the trust and to edit any language in the trust if governmental rules change.

There are a few key decisions to make when funding the trust and the biggest one is what percent of your assets will go to the trust and what percent will go to other heirs. From there, you start to make choices about which assets go to which people and there are tax and asset protection issues to consider.

Pro tip

Bring your tax, legal and investment team together to put together the strategy to fund a trust.

Prepare For Benefits

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid-funded services can be worth millions of dollars to an adult with developmental disabilities. Governmental funding helps pay for food, medical insurance and housing and many of the leading nonprofits in your community that serve your family are paid for by these benefits.

SSI is an income benefit that is an important resource for families and many households depend on SSI as a supplemental income source to pay bills.

Medicaid is a combined state and federal program that pays for several programs, depending on your state. Most adults with developmental disabilities rely on Medicaid for health insurance as they tend not have access through employment. Other programs, like host homes, groups homes, supported living, employment supports and daily activities are often funded by Medicaid.

A person with more than $2,000 in his or her own name will not qualify so your family will have to look for ways to save without putting money into your family member’s name. SSI and Medicaid have applications to prove that your family member has a qualifying disability.

Pro tip

Apply for benefits at age 18 and bring your school and medical records to the Social Security office. Review whether or not your family member has bank accounts, investments or other assets prior to the appointing and consult with your special-needs planning team to develop strategies to move those if he or she has assets.

I'm Not Sure, Guide Me

Not sure where to start? Rob’s book, Financial Freedom for Special Needs Families, is a step-by-step guide to help you move from feeling overwhelmed to feeling confident in your special needs planning. Get your copy today. This is a great place to start!

Pro tip

Check out my online resources and course too. These are great tools to learn at your pace. 

Featured Articles

Exciting Benefit Updates Are In the Works

Cheeseburger inflation is making me mad. If you know me, you know I love a good cheeseburger. Actually, I love...

The Magic of Compound Interest

Fans of the Harry Potter book series know about Hermione’s beaded handbag that shows up in the final book. If...

Cash, Credit Cards and Your Special-Needs Trust

Last Tuesday, Owen went to a movie at the theater down the block from where he lives and on the...

About Rob


In 2001, Rob Wrubel switched careers and became a Certified Financial Planning professional. Little did he realize that it would not be the biggest change in his life. Two years later, Wrubel welcomed the birth of his second child—a daughter with Down Syndrome. “The birth of my daughter changed my life—as a father, community member, and financial planner,” said Wrubel. “My family has a great time together, and Sarah leads us in laughter and song. I’ve come to understand how our differences make us stronger and how each member of our community has something to offer.” Wrubel took his knowledge of financial planning and his experience as a father of a family member with a disability and has authored two books on special needs planning: Financial Freedom for Special Needs Families: 9 Building Blocks to Reduce Stress, Preserve Benefits, and Create a Fulfilling Future and Protect Your Family: Life Insurance Basics For Special Needs Planning.

Today, Wrubel also uses his knowledge to help other special needs families by serving as their financial advisor and by speaking to families and professional groups throughout the country. “Special needs families face financial challenges not faced by other parents, such as protecting governmental benefits by good planning and balancing savings for retirement while having funds available to pay for disability-related expenses. People often come to my office in a state of fear and anxiety. They are overwhelmed with the decisions they need to make about their financial life and future planning. I understand their concerns because I am in their shoes. I look at this as a personal and professional mission”.

Rob Wrubel

About Rob's Books

9 Building Blocks to Reduce Stress, Preserve Benefits, and Create a Fulfilling Future

Life Insurance Basics For Special Needs Planning

A Quick Start Guide to Your Special Needs Estate Plan

Resources & Tools You Need

Let's Get Started

Get my

Learn how to be in control of your finances and your future!

Sign up for my Top Tips Right Now!

Yes, I understand that by completing this form I’m agreeing to receive email messages from Rob Wrubel & I can unsubscribe at anytime.
I agree to the Policy & Terms of Use*

In The News


Speaking Kit