It is a priviledge to interview Mr. Jitendra Solanki, a renowned financial advisor in India. He has written a wonderful book, Financial Planning For Families Having Children With Special Needs, which will, am sure, help many special needs families. After I completed reading his book, I wanted to more about trust, wills, letter of intent,etc. – all important concepts that directly effect the well being of our children, when parents have moved on. When Mr. Solanki told me about his plan to conduct webinars on financial planning and elaborate on the aspects involved in detail, I was super excited. Let’s get started with the interview then.
Q) Would you like to introduce yourself to my readers please?
How I Started – When I started my financial planning practice in 2011 thoughts hovered in my mind. How can I create difference in the lives of people who need me the most? I always aspired to be working with families who are not able to receive a proper guidance and resources to plan for their financial well-being. By then I have already met numerous families with special needs children. Through them I gained a deep understanding into their personal, financial and legal requirements. My spouse, who is an occupational therapist by profession, is an instrumental guidance in taking this decision. She has been serving families with special needs children from 2003. Seeing the ongoing concerns of such families and a lack of specialist advisers in our country I then decided to set up a specialized practice for families with special needs children- Plan Special Needs.
My Mission– I am passionate about helping special needs children families. My aim is to remove their anxiety towards special needs financial planning. This will bring in the families a sense of empowerment, so that they are able to provide for their loved one with special needs and to the whole family.
My Education – After doing my post-graduation from IIT Roorkee I spent 11 years working with financial services institutions. In 2011, I earned the much-respected professional designation of Certified Financial planner (CFPCM) and started my financial planning practice. I am also a Chartered Trust and Estate Planner (CTEPTM) and a Member of The Chartered Institute of Securities & Investments, U.K.
To spread awareness among families I write frequently in various media groups and speak at public forums sharing my views on planning for families with special needs dependents.
Q) Congratulations on writing a book that is needed by every special needs family in India, would you like to share a few details about your book?
Thanks. Writing on this subject was tough since so many issues were to be addressed. But I am pleased that the book is highly appreciated by the families themselves.
But one of the alarming situations here is that most special needs dependent families are not planning for their future. The main goal of writing this book is to bring in front the various aspects of planning within the constraints families face in the country. The book covers the process of creating a financial plan. It explains how to estimate the special needs dependent lifetime care costs and how the financial plan could meet them. The book has illustrative charts and tables which makes it easier for families to understand. It also offers guidance on effective estate planning, with the help of tools such as a Will, Private Trust for a special needs child, Letter of Intent, Power of Attorney, and others. It also explains why guardianship is important and what happens when the child turns 18.
Given below are few other areas which have been covered in this book:
- How to identify and estimate the financial needs of the child?
- How can life insurance be used to provide a good financial protection?
- Emergencies can arise and so what are the provisions to be made for dealing with them and
- How trust structures benefit special need families and what other estate planning tools can be utilized?
While writing a book I have tried to share the experience of the families who have faced similar challenges. I have presented stories of few families I have met and have presented case studies to illustrate the planning aspects. I do agree that this book is not a complete solution for the families as the planning is complex but surely a starting point to think about the future.
Q) Why is financial planning so crucial for a special needs family?
All special needs families know that planning is necessary but ground reality is that that they hardly consider it. Most parents of special needs children are not able to address their child’s issues properly due to overwork pressure. There is also a lack of good advisors who are experienced and knowledgeable enough to counsel on both technical and emotional aspect of planning. This results in parents taking financial decisions, with their limited knowledge and awareness, which in most cases are found to be suboptimal. All these factors point towards a huge gap for the families. Unless a proper financial plan is put in place, the issues will remain unresolved and could jeopardize the future of the child.
In my view below four factors derive the need for special needs families to take a financial planning approach:
- The population of disabled has been increasing,
- Medical advancement has enhanced the life span of these individuals too,
- Because of high inflation, the cost of care of special need child lifetime has increased and
- The resources to plan for 2 generations i.e. Special needs child and other family members are very limited.
Q) You are planning a webinar series on financial planning, a few details please..
My mission is to reach more and more families with special needs children and help them understand financial planning. The book was a beginning to achieve this objective. But every issue which family has to address need a detailed understanding. If families have awareness on what to plan then they can easily decide on how to plan.
The webinars will present different aspects of financial and legal planning families have to address. Considering the paucity of time with families these webinars will be restricted to time duration of 30 minutes followed by Q&A session. The webinars will be conducted in series where each webinar will address specific issue. Also, to ensure more queries can be answered in the webinars we are currently limiting participant to 30 in each webinar. If we are getting the adequate response more webinar on same topics will be planned and number of participants can be increased.
Q) What topics will be covered in the webinar series?
The webinar will be conducted in 2 variants- Basic and Advanced.
The basic webinars will help families to understand the scope of financial and legal planning. Through these webinars they will be able to decide on what areas to be covered while planning for their family future.
The advanced version of these webinars will cover the various aspects in depth.
Currently we intend to cover following topics through these webinars:
- Understanding special needs financial planning
- How to plan for 2 generations?
- Scope of Estate Planning
- Tax Planning
- How to identify lifetime care cost of the child?
- Private Trust
- Letter of Intent
- Tax Planning Strategies
- Investing Avenues
Q) Do we have to pay to watch the webinars?
Yes, all these webinars will be paid sessions since it involves time and expertise. If needed, we may involve external speakers too. The basic webinars will cost Rs 300 per participant and the advanced webinar will cost Rs 500 per participant.
Q) Will you be available to clarify our questions after the webinar? A few details about how you will connect with the viewers...
Yes. All webinars will have a Q&A session at the end where participants can seek answer to their queries. Post the webinar if any family wishes to connect with us for some services/guidance, they can schedule a consultation meeting and we will address their queries. We are also building up community for parents to seek guidance on financial and legal matters. But that’s work under process.
Q) When will the webinars be live? Can we watch a recording later?
By March end we will start with basic webinars to help families start thinking. All webinars will be live and recorded. The first webinar video will be available for download to all families without any cost. The rest of the videos will be available for download at a nominal cost which we will be finalizing soon.
Q) How can we sign up for the webinar series?
We are in the process of scheduling our first webinar. As it goes live we will provide a link at ParentingAutismIndia and PlanSpecialNeeds to register for the webinar and payment of fees. Once registered and fees paid the participant will receive a link in their email to attend the webinar.
Friends, I hope you are as interested in learning more about financial planning as I am. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to learn from the comfort of your home. To register for the webinars:
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