Special Needs Trust
Why Have a Special Needs Trust?
Many of us have a family member who is not self-sufficient, and may never be. Maybe it’s a child or grandchild with a disabling mental or physical condition, or a spouse with Alzheimer’s Disease. If you choose to protect that person financially, it’s important to ensure you do this effectively. Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to leave your loved one a lump sum outright, whether as a gift during your lifetime or as a bequest when you’re gone. Doing so could make your loved one ineligible for vital government benefits (such as SSI or Medicaid) to which he or she would otherwise be entitled.
Fortunately, there is a solution that allows you to be both generous and wise with your resources. The Special Needs trust is a sophisticated legal tool that, when properly funded and drafted, allows your loved one to access needed services without compromising eligibility for public/government benefits.
Special Needs Trust Planning for a Child or Grandchild
If you have a child or grandchild with a disability you can create a Special Needs trust for the child to either fund now, helping with needs during your lifetime, or direct funds from your estate plan to fund the trust upon your death. These monies can be used for supplemental services (second opinions from doctors, equipment, therapies, etc.) not covered by insurance or government benefits.
Special Needs Trust Planning for a Spouse or Partner
A Special Needs trust can be also be used when planning for a spouse receiving (or soon to receive) long-term care, Medicaid, or other government benefits. When you pass away your spouse is entitled to approximately 50% of your estate. These additional monies received from your estate may jeopardize your spouse’s ability to receive funding from various programs used to help cover costs of care. If your spouse is living in a nursing home or needs to transition to a facility providing more care when you pass away, or soon after, planning is critical to protect your spouse’s ability to access these crucial benefits and programs. Funds from a Special Needs trust can then be used to enhance your spouse’s life by providing access to a private nurse, special wheelchair, or transportation needed to attend family gatherings outside the nursing home. When your spouse dies, provisions in the trust can pass any additional funds to secondary beneficiaries.
Do you need a Special Needs Trust?
The Special Needs trust is as complicated as it is beneficial. Call and schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys to determine if this type of trust is appropriate for your situation. If so we will craft a Special Needs trust that meets your family’s specific needs.