Sisters Sticking Together

How one family bought a home for their daughter with a special needs trust

"Simplemente tenía sentido".

Las hermanas que viven juntas
Mary y Katrina Schwanke son hermanas que viven independientemente en el mismo hogar.

That’s how Mary Schwanke, sister to Katrina, described the decision to purchase a home and live together. Katrina, 32, has Down syndrome and has lived at home with her parents, Don and Kathy, all her life. Mary is single and ready to move into a permanent home after years of apartment living.

"Sabíamos que Katrina necesitaba una casa a largo plazo, y no nos estamos volviendo más jóvenes", dijo Kathy cuando se le preguntó sobre la decisión de buscar una casa propia. "Mary y Katrina siempre han estado muy unidas, y Katrina quería más independencia."

Starting the process

The Schwankes sought professional advice to learn what it would take to set up an LLC. This allowed them to purchase a home for Katrina and Mary without jeopardizing Katrina’s special needs trust, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits.

They hired financial adviser James Traylor in Rochester, NY. Traylor introduced the family to the process, which gave the Schwankes options to provide independent housing for Katrina. The process took about six months and required a financial investment from Katrina’s parents and Katrina via her special needs trust.

Los pasos incluidos:

    • Encuentra un hogar
    • Set up an LLC to protect Katrina’s special needs trust, and for liability protection to the Schwankes should an accident occur on the property
    • Apply for Family Support Services funding, which assisted with moving and home set-up expenses
    • Apply for a mortgage with a bank that was open to working with the Schwankes for a special needs home-buying scenario

Think about options

While not a solution for all, Don expressed that families of individuals with a disability should think broadly and look into options that might not make sense at first. “We were skeptical of hiring a financial adviser at first, thinking it would be too expensive,” said Don.

"Sin embargo, aprendimos que contratar a un asesor con conocimientos nos dio información y opciones que se pagaron con creces, con beneficios que compensan los honorarios".

Mary Schwanke is the Manager of Respite and Family Support Services at ARISE CNY and serves on the LIFEPlan Member and Family Council