The Arc: Life-Planning conference yields success

Staff Report
Arc's Board President Alfred Mason, Executive director Norma Dukes, Guest Speaker Theresa Vernet and Marketing Director and Conference Founding Chair Sharon Morris.

The Arc of East Ascension held its third Life-Planning for Person with disabilities conference on Saturday, April 26.

The guest speaker was Theresa Varnet, an attorney who specializes in estate planning for people with disabilities. Varnet is also a certified teacher, licensed social worker and the parent of a disabled adult daughter. She is the nation's leading expert on estate planning issues for those with special needs.

Parents with a child who has a disability often find themselves in a dilemma when planning for this child's future.

Since the average family is seldom able to leave sufficient funds to care for their dependent's lifetime care, they must make sure their child remains eligible for government programs such as SSI, Medicaid, residential, training or support services.

That was the focus of the Life Planning for Persons with Disabilities conference, an educational program from Community Opportunities, The ARC of East Ascension (COEA.)

Varnet's presentation focused on how to assist families without adverse affects that may exclude them from receiving government support.

Topics for the program included: Introduction to Government Benefits, Preserving Eligibility, Guardianship and Less Intrusive Alternatives and Navigating the Social Security Maze. A panel of experts was also available to answer questions regarding special needs estate planning. Panelist included: Linda Melancon, Laurie Kadair, John Sirois, and Jane Thomas.