Funding for a Special Needs Child Should be Part of a Divorce Settlement Agreement

December 15, 2023

A huge problem for many parents of disabled individuals is that they have spent a large share of their assets – and often much of their earning capacity for the care of their disabled child over the years. When you ask clients how much they think they need to leave to a trust for their disabled child to replace the care and management they have long provided for free, the numbers are mind-boggling. There are predictable outlays for a minor child. Outlays for an adult child are very hard to estimate.

Planning Ahead for the Future

When a divorce happens, like many of the joint planning decisions made previously, the strategy for providing for a special needs child may start from scratch. In the event of death, what kind of funding will be expected of the first parent to die? Will there be assurances from the other parent that funding needs will be met? Funding while both parents are married can be complex enough. During a divorce negotiation, parents may experience a terrifically sobering moment in how to ensure each meets some minimum responsibility in the event of an early death.
One way to provide for unknown, but potentially substantial future costs, is life insurance. This is not the only solution. However, cash value life insurance is an option for advance funding of a special needs trust in the event of a parent’s premature death. Other resources can be used if the parent funding the trust is comfortable irrevocably losing control of these assets.
Parents benefit by consulting an attorney who understands the complexity of estate and lifetime planning for special needs children and can join the collaborative team working to find the best solutions for the divorcing family.

Jeff Metz, MT,CFP is a shareholder and Senior Financial Advisor with RTD Financial, a Philadelphia regional financial planning and advisory firm. RTD sells no products and acts as a fiduciary at all times. Jeff can be reached at or at 215 -557 -3800.

Jeff Metz, MT, CFP, CDFA

Jeff is a Senior Financial Counselor at RTD Financial Advisors. Jeff joined the firm in 2016 as a shareholder. Jeff graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a degree in Chemical Engineering and began his career at Diamond Shamrock in Dallas, TX. While in Dallas, he became interested in using principles of corporate finance in personal financial planning. Jeff moved to the Philadelphia area where he started his own financial planning firm. He became a Certified Financial Planner and Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS) through the College of Financial Planning in Denver. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.

Jeff has a Master in Taxation degree from Villanova Law School, with a special certificate in estate planning.

Jeff is a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the Financial Planning Association. Jeff has served on the NAPFA Northeast Regional Board and was Co-Chair of two NAPFA national and regional educational conferences.

Jeff is a member of the Financial Therapy Association.

Jeff has lived in Lower Merion Township outside of Philadelphia with his wife and three children since 1995.

Jeff finds inspiration in helping clients discover what is meaningful to them about their lives. Working with clients in an empathic manner fosters an environment where couples are encouraged to identify their differences and support each other’s aspirations. Jeff enjoys the opportunity to offer counseling that creates convergence in the actions taken to produce real financial progress and achieve peace of mind. Jeff has completed a 40 hour Mediation Intensive Training program through the Center for Understanding in Conflict.

Jeff is the author of “Get Client’s IRA Custodian to Follow Recommended Beneficiary Designation” published in TRUSTS&ESTATES magazine November 2017.