Special Needs Planning
- What is a Special Needs Trust and how does it work?
- When should a Special Needs Trust be established?
- Does an affluent family really need a Special Needs Trust?
If you have a child or loved one with special needs, you are probably very concerned about what may happen to them when you are no longer able to serve as primary care giver. Of course, you can make provisions for them to receive money and assets, but doing so can pose problems in maintaining eligibility for essential benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid programs. Such benefits may even be cancelled or denied. A Special Needs Trust, also known as a Supplemental Needs Trust, can ensure that government benefit eligibility is preserved while at the same time providing assets that will meet the supplemental needs of the person with a disability and lead to a better quality of life for your disabled loved one.
Special Needs Trusts are typically established no later than the beneficiary’s 65th birthday. However, in the case of a disabled or chronically ill beneficiary, it is a good idea to establish a Special Needs Trust earlier than that. Anyone can establish a Special Needs Trust for the benefit of a disabled individual, although it is usually created by parents of a disable child, with the help of an attorney experienced in this complex area of the law.
Even a wealthy family should establish a Special Needs Trust. Why? If your special needs loved one is ever sued, trusts assets would not be available to the plaintiffs. Also, funds in the Special Needs Trust are not countable as available assets for the purpose of determining government benefit eligibility. This means more of your money can be used for supplemental expenditures, as opposed to paying for expensive private care benefits that can drain even significant amounts of money over time.