New Newsletter Border 2.png

October '23 News, Updates & Events

Leaf Divider.png

In This Issue

President's Message

2023 Parent University Class 10: "Financial Planning for the Whole Family, Now and In The Future" - October 12

Catch up on Parent U Class 9: "Don't Stress Out: Finding Professionals to Help"

In the News: Parents of Special Needs Children Need a Financial Plan

The Special Fathers Network

Learning to Save Webinar Series

Catch up on ABLE Basics Webinar

Upcoming Events

President's Message

Working with our clients here at Protected Tomorrows, I notice that many are concerned about their kids (young adults as well as teens) not understanding money: how to spend wisely, how to save and how to invest.


My generation was lucky. Our parents, who lived through the Great Depression, taught us how to save and its importance. That doesn’t seem to be on the radar for today’s young people.


The result is a generation of Americans who can’t tell you how much money they earn and where it goes; what the difference is between wants and needs; or how to save and invest. We have to turn this around, for the sake of our society and our children’s futures.


So starting this month, we are launching a free series of three webinars on “Learning to Save.” It’s open to anyone, whether or not they’re our clients. You’ll find more information and registration links in this month’s newsletter.


Encourage your kids to tune in and spread the word!

Warmest regards,

Mary Anne Ehlert

2023 Parent University Class 10: "Financial Planning for the Whole Family: Now & In the Future"

Thursday, October 12, Noon-1 p.m. CDT

Parent University on blue.png

Our financial planning needs to be different. We have to take care of ourselves, our family, sometimes our extended family, and we have to do it during our working years, our retired years and even beyond our lifetime.

We need to know how to fit all of this into our planningthink about Social Security differently, build our portfolio differently and thoroughly understand the insurance we need or don’t need. The whole planning process can be overwhelming, but one step at a time makes it much easier to make progress

"Financial Planning for the Whole Family: Now & In the Future"

Thursday, October 12, Noon-1 p.m. CDT

If you'd like the information, but can’t attend, register, and we’ll provide you with a link to the recorded video after the class.  

For Zoom security, when you register, you’ll receive an email with a link to the class and a passcode—which you’ll be asked to enter when you log-on. (To avoid disruption, we'll close the class at 12:05. If you’re late, you'll be able to watch the video later.) 

Registration is required. Click here to sign up!

Leaf Divider.png

Catch Up on Class 9, "Don't Stress Out: Finding Professionals to Help"

View It Free Until October 21!

If you missed our September Parents University session, it's available for free using coupon code 2023pu9stress. Our guest speakers discussed the stresses we often face as caregivers (or as the person with the disability) and how to find professionals who can guide us to survive it.

Thank you again to our 3 guest speakers:


To watch it using the coupon code:

  • Click on the link below to access the class in our store
  • Add the class to your cart
  • Type in the above code at checkout
  • Click “Apply coupon”
Watch Here
Leaf Divider.png

Protected Tomorrows in the News

Parents of Special-Needs Children (No Matter Their Age) Need to Make a Financial Plan for Their Future

As seen in CPA Practice Advisor and WATE, Channel 6, Knoxville

Imagine having to scrape together enough money to put your child through Harvard, every year for the rest of his or her life. 

That’s the daunting task faced by the parents of a child with a disability, who must be ready to fund upwards of $50,000 a year for future care. And that’s why Mary Anne Ehlert—a financial planner dedicated to helping such families—has a phone that rarely stops ringing.


“Parents of a child with a disability are haunted by one question,” says Ehlert, founder and president of Protected Tomorrows in Lincolnshire, Illinois: “Who will take care of my child when I’m gone?” 

Many parents of children with disabilities spend most of their time and resources taking care of the here and now, but don’t know where to turn for their unique financial planning requirements

For such parents, the task of planning for their child’s future may seem overwhelming. How does one qualify for government benefits? Evaluate the right school systems? Find the right residential program? Create an appropriate financial plan? Structure an estate plan? Ehlert and her staff—many who have family members with a disability—guide parents through this stressful, complex and heart-wrenching process.

Most financial professionals are known for their analytical skills rather than their compassion. But Ehlert brings something more to the table: a first-hand understanding of the emotional and financial complexities of living with a loved one with a disability.

“My sister Marcia, who was born with cerebral palsy, changed my life forever,” Ehlert says. “She helped me discover that I can make a difference in the lives of others. Families feel secure in planning with someone who knows what they’re going through.” Mary Anne Ehlert and her sister Marcia are pictured above.

One of six siblings, Ehlert was particularly close to Marcia. A successful banking executive, she saw the difficulties her parents had in making sure Marcia would be cared for when they could no longer do so. 

Meanwhile, Ehlert was becoming disillusioned with corporate life. The last straw: having to lay off hundreds of employees. In 1990, she began studying for her Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation and started a business geared to special needs families.  She once thought there wouldn’t be enough families who needed her services. Thirty-three years later, she has seven employees and has more work than she could have imagined. Although Marcia passed away more than 25 years ago, her legacy lives on.

“There’s so much for families to learn,” Ehlert says. “Often, clients proudly tell us that they’re setting money aside in their child’s name, sometimes working two jobs.


“Unfortunately, what they’re doing will disqualify their child for government benefits like Medicaid and Social Security.” 

Families are often initially horrified when Ehlert recommends that they do not leave money directly to their child—until she explains it’s an act of love. In order to qualify for Medicaid and Social Security, a child over 18 may not have more than $2,000 in his or her name. 

“Parents can still save those dollars, but they need to do it the right way, by establishing both an ABLE Account and a Special Needs Trust. Even with government benefits, you want to leave money for haircuts, movie tickets and extras,” Ehlert says.

To guide families through such legal, emotional and financial intricacies, Ehlert has created an eight-step program, The Journey to Protected TomorrowsTM. Her team of social workers, accountants, financial advisors, insurance experts and allied attorneys takes families through the entire planning process, from identifying needs to applying for benefits to creating a viable funded financial and estate plan.

She has even created a unique online workbook, My Special Life™, which allows parents to document their child’s individual preferences and lifestyle for future caregivers. She offers a monthly complimentary online Protected Tomorrows Parent University to help families learn one step at a time, where not only her team but guest speakers bring their special brand of knowledge and compassion to families in the comfort of their homes.

What advice does she have for parents of a special needs child? “Start early. The toughest time is when a child ages out of the school system. There’s no communication between schools and government agencies—all of a sudden, it’s up to the parent.” 

In addition to special needs families, her firm provides financial planning for children with aging parents, the widowed and the divorced. In short, all her clients need special guidance—and a personal touch. “What makes us different,” Ehlert says, “Is that we work with our hearts as well as our heads.”

The Special Fathers Network

Where fathers of children with special needs can find information, support and mentoring

Based in Barrington, the Special Fathers Network is a nonprofit dad-to-dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs. Through its personalized matching process, fathers with a special needs child are connected with another father (A Mentor Father) who has experienced a similar situation.

Mentor Fathers are matched as closely as possible based on the child’s special need, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic group, and relationship to the child (i.e. father, stepfather, grandfather), providing the younger father a chance to ask personal questions and receive peer support.

Learn more at 21st Century Dads.

Leaf Divider.png

Learning to Save: A New Webinar Series for Teens & Young Adults

Ehlert Financial Group is proud to present a new online series for teens and young adults (ages 16-25) to help them learn how to save, how to invest and how to protect their tomorrows.

This 3-part series will include the following sessions. (All times are Central.)


  • Class #1 "Cash Flow - What Is It and How Do I Start?" October 19, 7-8 p.m.

  • Class #2 "Investment Choices - What Are the Differences?" February 13, 2024, 7-8 p.m.

  • Class #3 "Powers of Attorney - What Do They Mean?" May 14, 2024, 7-8 p.m.

Registration is required

Each webinar will be recorded and sent to the registrants.

Register Here for Class #1
Leaf Divider.png

Miss the ABLE Webinar?

For anyone who missed our ABLE Basics Webinar, "What You Need to Know and How It Can Work For You" on September 14, or if you would like to watch it again, this video will be available for free until October 14 with coupon code 2023ILABLE.

To use the coupon code:

  • Click on the link below to access the class in our store
  • Add the class to your cart
  • Type in the above code at checkout
  • Click “Apply coupon”

Watch Here

This Is Where We Will Be in the Weeks Ahead...


Upcoming Events 2023

Blue Bar for newsletter.png

All times are Central


October 4, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

"Planning for the Future"

Willow Creek Community Church

67 Algonquin Road, South Barrington IL 60010

October 5, 6-7:30 p.m.

"What Happens When You Can't Be There: Legal, Financial & Practical Planning Strategies" - Online

Sponsored by the Arc of the Quad Cities Area

Mary Anne Ehlert explores the many tools available to parents and caregivers: Special Needs Trusts, ABLE Accounts, government benefits, insurance solutions and building and communicating the plan.

Registration is required. Register here

October 10, 6-7:30 p.m.

"Your Journey Through Our 8-Step Planning Guide"

Sponsored by Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization Family Education Center, 500 Plum Grove Road, Palatine, IL 60067

October 11, 6-8:30 p.m.

Options Fair

Sponsored by York High School District 205

344 W. St. Charles St., Elmhurst IL 60126

October 12, noon-1 p.m.

Parent University Class 10 - Online

"Financial Planning for the Whole Family: Now & in the Future"

October 17, 5:30-7 p.m.

Lake Zurich High School Parent Group

300 Church Street, Lake Zurich, IL 60047

October 19, 7-8 p.m.

Learning to Save Series - Online

Class #1 – "Cash Flow: What Is It and How Do I Start?"

Sponsored by Ehlert Financial Group

Registration is required. Register here



November 15, 6-8:30pm

Best Resource Fair: Transitions for the Future

Niles North High School

9800 Lawler Ave Skokie, IL 60077

November 16, noon to 1 p.m.

Parent University Class 11 - Online

"The Big Worry: Future Residential Options"


December 7, noon-1 p.m.

Parent University 12 - Online

"Wrap Up: Did You Get Real?"

For more information on these events and

our complete calendar, click here.

Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn