This article reviews recent literature, legislation, and account information concerning 529A accounts created under the Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act [26 U.S.C. § 529A (2014)] and analyzes ABLE savings programs across all 50 states. The authors conclude that a 50–state review of ABLE Act rollouts dictates that professional planners should consider six key questions when deciding which state ABLE program best serves a client’s needs: 1) Will program fees for maintenance, disbursement, print, rollovers, administration, or other services unduly burden or otherwise inconvenience the client? 2) What are the state account balance limits? 3) Is the client eligible for a state income tax credit for ABLE account use? 4) Is the client best served by a program that offers a debit or purchasing card to use ABLE account funds? 5) Does this state offer the degree of investment risk that most benefits the client? and 6) How will the investment-related fees for this particular state program impact the client? Best practices for due diligence as well as professional standards of care require that specialists be familiar with the core differences between active state ABLE account programs and then tailor their guidance accordingly.
Annemarie Kelly, JD, LLM, is a practicing attorney and assistant professor teaching health law and policy within the College of Health and Human Services at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She formerly worked as a legal compliance officer and state administrative manager serving the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in Lansing, Michigan. She has served as counsel for both employers and individuals with disabilities across the Midwest in disability-related regulatory compliance and special needs planning matters. Ms. Kelly is licensed to practice law in Illinois, Michigan, and Iowa.
Lewis Hershey, PhD, MA, is professor of marketing and department head in the Department of Marketing, Business Law, and Supply Chain Management at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He was formerly a financial advisor with American Express and Prudential. A 2009 Paul Mills Scholar, he serves on the Society of Financial Service Professionals’ University Partners Program Committee.