For many of us, estate planning includes planning for loved ones with special needs; including issues with mental capacity, physical restrictions, financial understanding, addiction, and/or illness.
A great way to plan for the future of loved ones with special needs is with a special needs trust. A special needs trust allows for property to be managed by a person, or trustee, for the benefit of the person with special needs. The trustee can be trustworthy family member or a specialized third party. The choice of trustee should be made carefully as they will be entrusted with the management and care of the future of your loved one with special needs.
A special needs trust is created with the specific needs, lifestyle, and future expectations of the beneficiary in mind. Trust assets are used to purchase necessities for your loved one; services and products such as personal care attendants, vacations, home furnishings, medical and dental expenses, education, vehicles, physical therapy, and more.
In addition to funding expenses, a special needs trust goes further to protect existing and future government benefits such as:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Subsidized housing
It is very important to note that a simple “will,” lump sum inheritance payment, or the proceeds from a settlement on behalf of a disabled person may NOT meet government requirements and may disqualify your loved one from these types of government assistance programs. A special needs trust protects both trust assets as well as qualification for government assistance programs for your loved one.
In addition to protecting existing and future government assistance, a special needs trust can also be personalized to meet the specific needs of the beneficiary.
A special needs trust is an extremely important element to any estate plan that includes the care and oversight of a loved one with special needs. It is a unique trust that must be established in specific ways to ensure that the beneficiary is cared for and that government program qualifications are protected. While you can create a special needs trust on your own, it is encouraged that you consult an attorney to ensure that the required wording and elements are included.
The attorneys with Beyer, Pongratz, and Rosen have vast experience in the creation of special needs trusts and more complicated estate planning elements. We can help you set up a comprehensive plan that protects those most important to you even when you cannot. Gi