A Down Syndrome Client

Archer Consulting Case Study – A Down Syndrome Client

Wanda is a 25 year old woman with Down Syndrome. She has good socialization skills, is sporadically employed at fast food restaurants and receives SSI and Medicaid. She lives at home but is showing signs of desiring more freedom.                                      


Wanda is a 25 yr old woman with Down Syndrome. She has good socialization skills, is sporadically employed at fast food restaurants and receives SSI and Medicaid. She lives at home with her parents, Jane and Frank, but is showing signs of desiring more freedom. This has been of concern to the parents, who’ve begun to investigate potential residential options.

 Current Situation

After touring a number of facilities, parents Jane and Frank have decided on a private-pay residential facility within an hour of home. They are fortunate to be able to afford the monthly costs – both are still working at ages 58 and 59, with plans to work until normal retirement age. They have done an extended estate plan with their longtime attorney and are very comfortable that if something were to happen to them, Wanda would be well cared for. Since they have another daughter, Linda, they have decided to make the final distribution of their estate 60%/40% in Wanda’s favor. This seemed only fair considering her longer-term needs, plus Linda’s ability to take care of herself. They had a special needs trust created so as not to interfere with SSI payments, naming Linda as the trustee.

The residential community referred them to Archer Consulting for a complete evaluation of their financial and legal plans before having Wilma make the move.

Archer Consulting Analysis, Recommendations & Results

The Archer Consulting Advisor completed an extensive assessment of the family’s current situation and long-term goals. Although Jane and Frank had been confident their planning would insure financial goals would be met, several weaknesses in the plan were discovered. Following are just some of the recommendations made to them after completion of the Initial Review.

Benefits and Resources

Although Wanda receives Medicaid, her parents still work at jobs giving their family a variety of benefits, including access to a health insurance plan with a wide variety of extensive services. The Archer Consulting Benefits Specialist recommended a program that allows Medicaid to pay health insurance premiums for private insurance coverage. Wanda and her parents were able to receive care through the private plan, while having the premiums paid on their behalf.

Technical Review

Legal documents should be drafted only after an extensive review of all family goals, including life care plans for Wanda, retirement plans for Jane and Frank, full discussions with all prospective successor caregivers about their role in the plan, and a full set of financial projections based upon both personal needs as well as special care needs.

Additionally, their estate planning attorney only drafted a few Special Needs Trusts per year. Consequently, there were some mistakes in the wording that could potentially disallow Wanda from benefits she deserved. It also restricted use of the funds in a way that Jane and Frank intended to be available for future alternative medical treatments.

Financial Dynamics

Jane and Frank had been good at accumulating money – they’d saved regularly, maximized qualified plans with company matches, and kept their debt low. However, the Archer Consulting financial advisor discovered a structural problem with their assets, which would have cost their estate many thousands of tax dollars upon their deaths. Both Linda and Wanda are relying on the estate to pay for Wanda’s continuing care as Jane and Frank intended. The assets have been restructured to ensure this will happen as planned.

Lifetime Care Planning

Linda was in a job that required her to travel internationally quite often. Since she was named as successor guardian and trustee for her sister, she expressed concern about being prepared to manage such time-consuming responsibilities. The family decided to name Archer Consulting as a Trust Advisor to help Linda make appropriate decisions on expenses for her sister’s benefit, and to plan for visits from a Guardianship Specialist in her absence.  Once the family put the ongoing care management plan in place, Linda was confident in her ability to have a close relationship with Wanda without worrying about being overwhelmed with responsibility.