The Parent’s Prayer
He looked directly at me and softly said, “Every day I pray ‘the parent’s prayer’—that Mitchell has a long, healthy life, but that Linda and I live just one moment longer, so that no one else ever has to take on the enormous responsibility of caring for our special needs child.” I was interviewing attorney Brian Rubin of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, who focuses on estate planning and advocacy for clients and families who struggle to find the right answers for their child with special needs. I recently met Brian when I was invited to join the Special Needs Alliance (SNA). My own law practice is focused on serving seniors who have either a long-term illness or an adult child with a disability. He went on to tell me, “My adult life started out fairly normally. After college, I worked for a large CPA firm, then went to law school at night, and worked for the IRS by day. I have always had to wear more than one hat.” Brian, and his wife Linda, never planned to have a law firm which focuses on Special Needs Future Planning—but life often takes an unexpected turn. In January of 1981, their son Mitchell was born. When Mitch was five months old, Linda told Brian, “There is a problem.” Brian says the truth of that statement was the beginning of his going through “the stages of special needs grief”: denial, self-blame, and doctor-hopping. Mitch has autism, among other diagnosed special needs. It soon became apparent that Brian needed to quit his downtown Chicago law practice and stay closer to home. He also wanted to provide appropriate legal guidance and advocacy for his family and others who faced the same issues. “In those days, almost no one was doing any special needs trusts and benefits planning. I was one of the pioneers in Illinois.” Brian struggled to balance the demands of a law firm and his passion to serve the community of the disabled from 1987-2001. When Mitch reached 18 years of age in 1999 and became eligible for health care through Medicaid, Brian began thinking about opening a law firm which would be 100% devoted to the laws, regulations, and benefits that both frustrate and support clients with disabilities and their families. Brian opened the doors of The Law Offices of Brian Rubin and Associates in 2001. The firm provides more than just estate planning and special needs trusts. Brian says, “Illinois has a very splintered benefit system. There is no single door of entry, so families are constantly hitting roadblocks. For example, our son Mitchell’s area of autism does not specifically fit in any one legally defined area. He needs a variety of services, but no one agency supplies them as one package. It’s my job as attorney and dad to discover how to get Mitchell the benefits that he needs. We provide that same type of advocacy for our clients.” He further explained, “We have found that the government does not tell people the whole story. Our job as legal advocates is to tell the whole story and to help get appropriate services and residential environments. We cannot do everything—but we act as the quarterback to get the financial advisor, psychiatrist, health care professionals, education providers, and caseworkers to collaborate to achieve the needed results.” In closing, Brian shared this: “Mitchell has allowed me, Linda, “big sister/assistant mom” Nicole, and “little/big brother” Benjamin to better appreciate what’s truly important in life… and what is not so important.” Brian Rubin has created a website (www.brianrubin.com) which is filled with helpful information. In addition, he makes public presentations frequently throughout the Chicago metropolitan area and Illinois.