A Man on the Move…
When the attorney Martin Shenkman saw that the legal, financial planning and certified public accounting professions were frequently overlooking the nuances of estate and financial planning for the at least 120 million Americans living with a chronic illness, particularly the chronic illness multiple sclerosis, he set out to change that reality in order to educate professional advisers, spur awareness and raise funds to end MS
For Marty, as he is known to his friends, perhaps this empathy was born out of first hand experience when his wife Patti was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006 and he realized that her diagnosis had triggered changes that forever affected their lives and plans for the future. With that in mind, Marty and Patti educated themselves about living with MS and its potential long term emotional and financial costs, which can be extensive along with all the planning changes.
As they immersed themselves in preparing for the future, Marty applied his estate planning strategies to accommodate for Patti’s chronic illness and the unique unpredictable elements of living with MS. He also made adjustments to his life insurance holdings, trusts and other financial planning tools. Realizing that other families living with MS or other chronic illnesses could benefit from this type of specific estate planning advice, Marty began donating hundreds of hours of his professional time to the Society. “I can give back to the Society by sharing my special expertise.” But his efforts are driven by one fuel, his love for Patti. “Watching someone you love struggle with an incurable disease like MS is horribly disempowering. Being proactive to help, Patti, also helps others with MS as well as virtually anyone living with chronic illness along with their loved ones, and it is the best antidote to that helpless feeling.”
His latest creative venture is RV4TheCause, a unique program in which Marty is bringing his expertise to the doorstep of financial advisors in order to assist them with the practical tools they need in being more effective resources for their clients with chronic illness. Combining his desire to help his wife travel more comfortably, his commitment to helping prevent chronic illness from destroying families’ lives, and his dedication to building awareness for charities that serve the chronically ill, Marty is taking to the road with his wife Patti and her Norfolk Terrier service dog Elvis in his Airstream RV. The team will provide free seminars and events where professionals can earn education credits, through Lorman Education Services, while networking with other local professionals. NAPFA (the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors) has likewise come on board as a sponsor of the RV4TheCause project.
RV4TheCause is taking its second major professional seminar tour on the road March 24 - April 10 presenting “Estate, Financial and Tax Planning for People Living with Chronic Illness.” Professional programs will be presented in: Princeton NJ, Washington DC, Chapel Hill NC, Jacksonville FL and Tampa FL. A national webinar will be broadcast on March 31, 1:30 EST (hosted by Leimberg Information Services, Inc.) https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/511935478
The schedule for Marty’s Spring tour is:
March 24 - Princeton NJ. Hosts: Guy McPhail, Traust Sollus Wealth Management (609)779-6700 and David Neufeld Esq. 609-919-0919.
March 25 – Bethesda MD. Host: Barry Korb, Lighthouse Financial Planning, LLC (301) 996-7044. http://www.rv4thecause.org/seminar-schedule/?id=38
March 28 - Chapel Hill NC. Host: James R. Miller, Woodward Financial Advisors (919) 929-2495. http://www.rv4thecause.org/seminar-schedule/?id=33
March 31 Webinar, 1:30-2:30 pm EST. Host: Stephan Leimberg of Leimberg Information Services, Inc. (“LISI”) https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/511935478
March 31 – Jacksonville FL. Host: Carolyn McClanahan, Life Planning Partners, Inc. (904) 448-5158. http://www.rv4thecause.org/seminar-schedule/?id=35
April 5 – Tampa FL. Hosts: Christine Brown, FPA 813-855-1017 and Holly P. Thomas, LLC (813) 489-1700. http://www.rv4thecause.org/seminar-schedule/?id=37
For more information on the continuing professional education credits offered courtesy of Lorman Education Services, a national professional education company based in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, visit: http://www.lorman.com/search/?search_term=shenkman
Consumer webinars will be conducted to inform those living with chronic illness and their loved ones about planning options. 5 webinars will be conducted from 5 different Good Sam affiliated RV parks on the trip.
His financial skills on strategizing for long term planning in the wake of a chronic illness combined with his dedication to give back to people in need as a volunteer have brought him much recognition in national media such as The Today Show, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and this summer in Forbes Magazine
Building on the opportunities provided by the Forbes article, he moved forward with developing additional stories highlighting MS, and wherever possible the Society, in Financial Planning “Keep Giving;” in the New York State Bar Association’s “The Good We Do” blog, in a fall supplement for the Wall Street Journal, and in Wealth Management Quarterly as well as an AICPA satellite and radio media tour promoting comprehensive financial planning.
Enhancing media awareness for MS and creative charitable giving is only a part of Marty’s educational strategy and volunteer assistance to the Society as he set out to get chronic illness and the Society representatives on as many bar association program agendas as humanly possible, inviting people with MS, their caregivers and advisors whenever appropriate.
“Adjusting to Patti’s diagnosis was difficult at first,” advises Marty, “but we learned to plan around her symptoms as best as we can. Unfortunately, we also came to realize that despite the high incidence of MS, people who don’t personally live with the disease, don’t have a lot of knowledge, understanding or sensitivity regarding its impact. That can be frustrating.”
Marty’s drive to protect people living with MS and to help fund research for a cure is unflagging. Free estate planning advice for people with chronic disease is available at his website www.laweasy.com. Marty just published a book called Estate Planning for People with a Chronic Condition or Disability (Demos Health). Generously, all royalties will be donated to help those with chronic illness. Marty is also the author of Funding the Cure, a book the Society distributes to potential donors to guide those with ties to MS as to how they can achieve a wide range of personal goals while giving to the Society. Any royalties on this book will be donated to the Society. He has also written numerous articles on financial planning for Momentum.
“I am passionate about aiding the Society,” says Marty, “not only because we need to fund a cure, but also because of the support they provide to families living with chronic illness. I am always trying to find ways to share my expertise with other people living with MS and chronic illness generally. Planning for the future is complicated and there is a need for educational resources.”
“I hope that traveling to the financial advisors will demonstrate, to them, my dedication to educating professionals about the need for careful planning and forethought,” said Marty. “I want to debunk myths and provide practical strategies.”
Marty spends his lengthy office hours advising clients on how to best manage their money over their lifetime. His practice concentrates on estate planning and administration, tax planning and corporate law. To this end, he has written 36 how-to legal books and 700+ articles. Marty has now finished a new book for distribution by The Michael J. Fox Foundation that covers both estate planning and charitable giving for families living with Parkinson’s disease.
“Too many people and institutions are insensitive to those living with chronic illness. I’m sadly reminded of this on an ongoing basis with Patti’s struggles. The more visibility given to the realities of any chronic illness, the easier it will become for anyone living with a chronic illness, or anyone who has a loved one with a chronic illness as well.”