If your business is like mine, you have been thinking a lot more about the government lately.  More of our clients are experiencing hard times, many state and local governments are in financial crisis, and all this is happening while the federal government is growing in unprecedented ways.

All this is critical for a fair number of the families we serve – and on occasion even higher net worth families find themselves in situations where a keen understanding of government benefits and programs is required.

At our next meeting, we are going to take a whirlwind tour of the vast and complicated world of government benefits and a few of the most potent tools to take full advantage.  Here are some of the questions we’ll want to explore:

  • What exactly is “Social Security”, anyway?
  • What part of Social Security is based on work history?
  • What part is needs based?
  • What are the rules pertaining to spouses, children and ex spouses?
  • What is SSDI?  Is it the same as SSI?  Is it the same as Social Security?
  • What are countable assets?  When does it matter?
  • Which of my planning strategies are most likely to disqualify my client without me even knowing it before it’s too late?
  • "What is a “divestment”?
  • "What is a “5 year look back”?
  • When do trusts help?  When don’t they help?
  • What is a “special needs trust”?  How does it work?
  • Is this the same as a “Sole Benefit Of” Trust, or is that something else?
  • How can trusts like this save families hundreds of thousands of dollars?

If you don’t want to become an expert in this area, but want enough information to have a reasonable understanding of what a client might be eligible or not eligible for, and even what techniques might match a particular case, you’ll want to join holistic estate & eldercare attorney ARTHUR MALISOW and me on Friday, February 26, 2010 at 7:30 a.m. at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club for an exploration of:

Social Security Public Benefits and the Special Role of Special Trusts