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The Special Needs Team

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Merrill Lynch
Wealth Management

Located in multiple offices throughout the United States, we are a deeply experienced team dedicated to improving the long-term well-being of society’s most vulnerable: people with disabilities, elderly individuals with dementia, accident victims, and other special-needs populations by offering financial advice and guidance.
Welcome

We are a dedicated group of financial advisors and client associates who work closely with other special-needs professionals and family members to improve the long-term well-being of individuals who are unable to care for themselves. Our work is more than a profession — it’s a passion. For decades we have focused on providing financial strategies to address the challenges and issues that you and your clients face.

We understand the implications of the Uniform Prudent Investment Act, various state Probate Codes, various state Rules of the Court and the National Guardianship Standards. We help professional advisors and family members institute investment standards through process-oriented investing that is well documented, regularly revisited, and clearly communicated.

Speak to us for a few minutes, and you may quickly perceive how we can help alleviate some key financial challenges that special-needs clients—and their support network—face. We have extensive experience collaborating with Private Professional Fiduciaries/Guardians, Corporate Trustees, Estate Planning Attorneys, and Personal Injury Attorneys.

Private Professional Fiduciaries & Guardians

We work closely with Private Professional Fiduciaries and Guardians to promote the long-term well-being of beneficiaries through process-based investing and committed service.
 

We are skilled in the following areas:

•         Upholding the “prudent-investor” standard through rigorous wealth planning, a needs-based analysis that reflects the unique requirements of each client, and targeted risk levels and asset allocations based on those objectives, including risk tolerance, liquidity needs and time horizon.

•         Documenting the processes for the deployment and diversification of client assets, as well as ongoing performance analysis through formal reviews.

•         Developing tax-sensitive financial strategies, working in concert with your CPA, as appropriate.*

 

*Merrill, its affiliates, and financial advisors do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.

Services for Estate Planning Attorneys

We help estate planning attorneys mediate conflicts among family members, drawing on our extensive knowledge of successor trusteeship and sub-trust issues.

Through customized financial strategies, we provide a rational process for balancing the needs of current and remainder beneficiaries, and promote the timely resolution of disputes among litigating parties.

We are skilled in the following areas:

  • Helping to mediate conflicts between family members by integrating long-term financial analysis and wealth management planning into decision-making frameworks
  • Serving as a neutral third-party that offers a documented process for evaluating financial decisions using quantitative analysis and fact-based market conditions
  • Creating detailed scenario analyses and “what if” frameworks that can help litigants move toward timely resolutions of disputes
  • Analyzing existing wealth management strategies relative to risk tolerance, liquidity needs, objectives, and time horizon.
  • Developing tax-sensitive wealth management strategies with documented processes for investment evaluation, selection, and tracking

Services for Personal Injury Attorneys

We help personal injury attorneys analyze and anticipate the long-term financial needs of their clients, with the goal of promoting a continuum of care that is thoroughly researched and thoughtfully derived.

Through customized financial strategies, we can help contribute to fact-based settlement planning, grounding our analysis in the unique long-range needs of each client and the distinct characteristics of various settlement instruments.

We are skilled in the following areas:

  • Creating detailed scenario analyses that evaluate the long-range needs of a plaintiff relative to the risk, fee, and return characteristics of various settlement options
  • Serving as a neutral third-party that offers a documented process for evaluating financial decisions using quantitative analysis and fact-based market conditions
  • Developing tax-sensitive investment strategies with documented processes for investment evaluation, selection, and tracking*
*Merrill, its affiliates, and financial advisors do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.

 

Services for Families with a Special Needs Loved One

We intimately understand the challenges and issues that families face in pursuing a more secure financial future for children, parents, siblings, or other loved ones.

We believe our strength in this area is demonstrated in the following ways:

  • Our extensive experience. Our team’s founder, Scott MacDonald, has spent more than 30 years addressing the unique needs of the clients we serve. Our advisors and associates are deeply immersed in the intricacies and insights that distinguish our service model.
  • Our focus. We exclusively support special-needs, accident-victim, and elder-care populations. We believe this concentration has intensified our ability to inform, educate, and advise the families we serve.
  • Our effective collaboration with a family’s external advisory team, including private professional trustees, attorneys, care managers, benefits counselors, and other client advocates.
  • Our long-term support of the Society for disABILITIES, ARC of San Francisco, Parents Helping Parents, Down Syndrome Information Alliance, and many other community organizations.
  • The intellectual capital we contribute through industry articles and presentations.
  • We understand the implications of the Uniform Prudent Investment Act, California Probate Code, California Rules of the Court and National Guardianship Standards. We have helped families implement investment standards through process-oriented investing that is well documented, regularly revisited, and clearly communicated.


How we can help:

  • Applying our understanding of the intricacies of conservatorships, guardianships, special needs trusts and other court-supervised accounts.
  • Conducting rigorous wealth planning, a needs-based analysis that reflects the unique requirements of each client, and targeted risk levels and asset allocations based on those objectives.
  • Documenting the processes for the deployment and diversification of client assets, as well as ongoing performance analysis through formal reviews.
  • Developing tax-sensitive financial strategies with documented processes for investment evaluation, selection, and tracking.*

The Special Needs Team, when appropriate, works with other advisors for specific clients' situations. 


John Schoeppach, CFP®, CRPC, CPFA

Senior Resident Director
Senior Vice President
John_new_5.pngJohn Schoeppach is a Senior Vice President and Senior Resident Director at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. Headquartered in Folsom, California, John leads the team’s outreach within Sacramento, Northern California, and Nevada.

Closely attuned to the distinctive needs of special-needs, disabled, and elderly individuals, John develops tailored financial strategies designed to help promote their long-term financial security and well-being. He brings extensive knowledge of wealth strategy and investment management for Special Needs Trusts and other court-supervised trusts, as well as probate investing for Conservatorships and Guardianships.

John’s areas of focus also include California Probate Code restrictions on investments, as well as the terms of the Uniform Prudent Investor Act. Active in the community, John facilitates ongoing education for disability organizations, attorneys, professional fiduciaries, and CPAs.

John is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, and is a Retired Lieutenant Colonel and Airborne Ranger. He joined Merrill in 1991. In addition to his advisory responsibilities, John serves as Senior Resident Director, a leadership role within the firm. He holds the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor designation.

 

*Merrill, its affiliates, and financial advisors do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.


Recognition

Merrill is proud of our advisors who’ve received recognition from financial industry publications or directly from Bank of America Corporation. We believe they are setting the standard for exemplary client service.

Scott M MacDonald

Forbes "Best-in-State Wealth Advisors" 2020-2022
Published annually Jan- April. Rankings based on data as of June 30 of prior year.

Meet the Team

Supported by the global resources of Merrill, our team is comprised of talented and experienced individuals committed to building strong client relationships based on trust and personalized service.

Staying on Track

We understand that both your life and the financial markets can change over time. By checking in to discuss changes in your life and revisiting your financial approach, our goal is to help you stay on track to achieve what's most important to you.



Reviews to help you
stay on track

We’ll meet with you to review your goals and the progress you’ve made toward reaching them. We’ll also discuss any adjustments needed to your financial approach to help you stay on course.



    Changes in your life
    and to your goals

    Your life and goals change. As these changes occur, we can update your approach to reflect them.

    #DigitalMerrill

    MyMerrill is your online destination for access to your financial information, secure communications, and a robust offering of tools and capabilities.

    Your advisor is a click away within our site or mobile apps

    You can manage account security with our customizable security capabilities such as touch ID, one time passcode, and other security features

    Access to your complete financial life is available with My Financial Picture, Merrill’s asset aggregation tool

      Let’s Have a Conversation

      Helping you reach your goals starts with getting to know you personally. Through understanding what matters most to you, together we can help you create a financial approach that reflects your personality. Only then can we offer an approach that is built around your life priorities and the advice you need to help you address fluctuations in the market and changes in your life. Let’s work together to help you achieve your goals.

      Why Merrill?

      As Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Advisors, we will sort through the financial complexities of your life, helping you build a customized investment approach to address your needs and pursue your goals.


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      We put you first, every day.
      Learn more about the dedicated one-on-one relationship you can have with a Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Advisor.



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      Transcript of Video 

      No question too big or moment too small

      For every question you have, every decision you make and every answer you need, we are with you to listen and help guide you along the many paths your life can take. Watch this video to see some questions we can address together.

      Personalized advice from a dedicated financial advisor.

      We get to know you and your family, your financial situation and what matters most to you.

      A comprehensive approach, built around your life’s priorities.

      Drawing from our experience and the best thinking of Merrill, together we will design an approach that reflects your unique needs, priorities and financial situation.

      Adjusting your investment approach as your life and the markets change.

      We will work to help you stay on track, regardless of what the markets are doing.