Special Needs Trust for Disabilities

Posted by Sheri Tucker, M.S., J.D.Aug 20, 20190 Comments

Photo by Nathan Anderson @nathananderson

A Special Needs Trust helps your child with a disability. When you have a child or another family member with special needs,  take extra care  planning your estate. Although estate planning should always be a personalized process, it's especially important when the loved one you're providing for relies on access to state services or government benefits.

Special Needs Trust – Goals

A special needs trust accomplishes several goals. First, it ensures that the individual with disabilities can maintain a high quality of life after the primary guardian or caregiver passes away. It often allows him or her to enjoy experiences and a quality of life that would otherwise be unavailable to them. Second, a special needs trust accomplishes this without endangering access to state-funded services, including health insurance, day service funding, and food stamps or other services.

Special Needs Trust – Benefits

A Special Needs Trust offers numerous benefits to the beneficiary. First, it allows beneficiaries to stay eligible for state-funded and federally funded programs that support individuals with disabilities. While a will typically gives funds directly to a beneficiary—which would, in this case, give the individual with disabilities so much that he or she would not qualify for government health insurance or long-term care assistance—a special needs trust designates a trustee to manage the funds. Since the recipient does not have any control over the money, it doesn't affect the individual's eligibility. Additionally, this type of trust often allows beneficiaries to enjoy activities that might otherwise be unavailable. Funds might be used for at-home care, material goods, health care expenses not covered by insurance, and enrichment.

How the Trust Works

During the estate planning process, you create a trust—a separate entity—and transfer assets to the trust. You name a trustee who will be responsible for managing the trust's funds after you pass and using the money for things your loved one needs or wants. The trustee must purchase items on behalf of your loved one, since giving them money directly could endanger his or her eligibility for public services. Many people choose to allot a certain amount of money per month. The trust is closed after there is no money available or your loved one passes away and no longer needs it.

Your SNT Attorney 

It's essential to work with an estate planning attorney while creating a special needs trust. Requirements for these trusts vary between states, and any error could make it difficult for your loved one to retain the services they need.

If you're ready to start working toward your estate planning goals, this is the time to call me at 314-332-0011. You may also book a complimentary consultation with me.