Sisters Sticking Together

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

"C'était juste logique."

Soeurs vivant ensemble
Mary et Katrina Schwanke sont des sœurs qui vivent indépendamment dans la même maison.

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.

"Nous savions que Katrina avait besoin d'une maison pour le long terme et nous ne rajeunissons pas", a déclaré Kathy lorsqu'on lui a demandé ce qu'elle pensait de la décision de devenir propriétaire. "Mary et Katrina ont toujours été proches, et Katrina voulait plus d'indépendance".

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.

Les étapes sont incluses :

    • Trouver un logement
    • 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.

"Cependant, nous avons appris que le fait d'engager un conseiller compétent nous a donné des informations et des options qui ont été plus que payantes, avec des avantages qui compensent les frais".

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