Haddad Nadworny Wed, Oct 07, 2020 @ 08:00 AM 8 min read

2020 Time-Sensitive Planning Strategies for Grandparents

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team at Affinia Financial Group John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP, ChSNC | Alexandria Nadworny,  CFP, CTFA

2 Birds_pexels-pixabay-45853In a perfect world, grandparents would be able to confidently plan for their personal financial security during their lifetimes and also plan for their children and grandchildren as beneficiaries of their estate.

While ours is far from a perfect world, as year-end 2020 approaches there are time-sensitive financial planning strategies grandparents of children with special needs should be aware of and may want to consider:

  1. Contribute to an ABLE account
    1. An ABLE or 529 (A) account allows people with disabilities and their families to save for disability related expenses, while maintaining eligibility for Medicaid and other means-tested public benefits programs. Since ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts were created in 2014, there have been many changes both on the state and national level to provide further advantages for people with disabilities. In addition, the ability to use ABLE funds to pay for qualified disability expenses has expanded during Covid 19. ABLE account savings may make it possible to continue to afford to live independently in the community, pay for additional support services, grocery delivery charges, personal protective equipment and extra expenses during this pandemic or when other emergencies arise in the future. Source: https://www.ablenrc.org/able-accounts-and-covid19/
  1. Convert a traditional IRA to a tax-free Roth IRA and set up a Special Needs Trust as the Beneficiary of the retirement account.
    1. Background: The SECURE Act* eliminated the “stretch” provision of an inherited IRA for non- exception beneficiaries. Prior to the SECURE Act, the beneficiary of an inherited IRA could “stretch” the distributions required from the account over their lifetime. Now, inherited IRAs are subject to the 10-year rule; the assets in the account must be distributed to beneficiaries over the next 10 years. This has significant tax implications as inheritors are required to take distributions during what may be their prime earning years., Our blog, When a Special Needs Trust is the Beneficiary of a Retirement Account , goes into further detail and gives a detailed example of the substantial impact this change has on both account owners and their beneficiaries.
    2. An exception: Exception beneficiaries, including individuals with disabilities or who are chronically ill, may still “stretch” the distributions over their lifetime. To read more about the details, click here.
    3. It may make sense for retirees to consider converting a portion of a traditional IRA to a ROTH IRA to leave beneficiaries an account that will be completely tax-free. To read more about this strategy and see a case example, see The "10 Year Rule" and After-Tax Strategies to Consider. 

When determining if these strategies are appropriate for you, please consult with your financial, legal and tax professionals. To discuss these and other strategies, please act sooner rather than later and email or give us a call to discuss suitable next steps for your specific situation in 2020.

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* The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement or SECURE Act was signed into law on December 20, 2019, becoming effective January 1, 2020. The law provides important changes for individuals and small businesses to consider in their retirement, estate and tax planning.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual, nor intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.

Prior to investing in an ABLE account, investors should consider whether the investor's or designated beneficiary's home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state's ABLE program. Withdrawals used for qualified disability expenses are federally tax free. Tax treatment at the state level may vary. Please consult with your tax advisor before investing.

 Traditional IRA account owners have considerations to make before performing a Roth IRA conversion. These primarily include income tax consequences on the converted amount in the year of conversion, withdrawal limitations from a Roth IRA, and income limitations for future contributions to a Roth IRA. In addition, if you are required to take a required minimum distribution (RMD) in the year you convert, you must do so before converting to a Roth IRA.


Financial planning and investment advice offered through Affinia Financial Group, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Affinia Financial Group and LPL Financial are separate entities.