We really try to coordinate our efforts with the community: therapist, psychologist, people in the medical community that we feel are going to be a resource for our clients. We try to be that hub. I think that’s a big thing, being here for them emotionally, financially and physically, meaning who should they pick to physically care for their loved ones.
Stephanie: Do parents have any misconceptions about the services you provide?
Christine: Yes. A lot of times parents feel, number one, that this is going to be very, very complicated. It can be, but you are with the right professionals who can explain it plainly and execute it quickly. We have a very quick turnaround when we create the packages and plans for our clients because we do a lot of them. We try to make sure we have a relationship with the clients, always catch up with them to see how they’re doing, invite them to our functions. We want them to feel free to always call us, and a lot of times, they feel that this might be so complex it’s over their head. It shouldn’t be, if they’re with the right professional.
Another misconception is they think, “Well, rather than create a trust, why don’t I just disinherit my child and I’ll leave the money to someone else.” That has so much risk. If there’s nothing on paper, how do you really know the money is going to be used properly for the child? It’s not going to be protected from that person’s creditors or bankruptcy, so that’s really not a good idea.
The third thing is they think it’s very expensive. They have to realize that the expenses are relative to what we’re trying to accomplish. They have to realize that we’re talking about their child’s lifetime, not just this moment in time. It’s going to be there after they pass, so they shouldn’t think about the cost being so much, because I think they’re losing track of what the real benefit is, that we’re protecting their child for life.
Stephanie: What’s one other benefit parents with special needs children get by working with you?
Christine: We’re happy to sit down with clients to interview financial companies with them so they’ll know exactly what questions to ask. We want to confirm everyone they’re working with knows what they’re doing, has experience and they’re comfortable. A mature professional, financial advisor, a CPA… if this is beyond them, they would want to make sure their client is taken care of and ask who we recommend. If I’m the client, I would love that, because that means you really have my best interest.
We want to know how communicative they will be with the client. We don’t want to hear a co-trustee say, “Oh, my sister needs money for a mattress,” and they don’t get a call back for two weeks. That’s not proper. We want to find out how they work, how they get messages and how fast the turnaround time is.
Stephanie: You wrote a tips booklet about estate planning for parents of special needs children. How can someone get a copy of it?
Christine: Yes, I wrote that. It’s something we send to our clients when they make an appointment. It’s another way to ensure their trust in us so it’s one less thing for them to worry about, “Does she know what she’s talking about?” The book and other articles I’ve written set the tone before they come in. They could download them from our website, but there’s something about having that book in your hand. We have physical copies in our conference room. It’s like a little bible.
Stephanie: I’ve learned so much from talking with you today, Christine. The parents of special needs children in New Jersey have a wonderful resource in The Matus Law Group. Thank you for your time.
Christine: Thank you for everything, Stephanie.
To learn more, visit http://www.matuslaw.com/