Have you seen pictures of your friend’s socks in your Facebook feed? March 21 was World Down Syndrome Day. One of the ways to bring awareness this year was to wear brightly colored socks, printed socks or even three socks (representing three chromosomes). The initiative was designed to get people talking, spark fundraising and create a broad online community.
The National Coordination of Associations of People with Down syndrome – that is a mouthful – known as CoorDown also released a video. It carries the theme of full inclusion and conveys the message of human needs rather than special needs. For families of those with Down syndrome, however, special considerations must be a part of any estate planning conversation.
Why consider a “special needs” trust?
Medicaid and SSI often provide for long-term care, but they have strict income/asset rules that affect eligibility. Unfortunately, these government benefits don’t always pay for all of a child, niece or nephew’s needs.
You may have covered expenses for dental work or art classes. But how do you ensure that these things, which promote comfort and happiness, continue? Leaving a gift directly might cause Medicaid eligibility issues.
This is where a special needs trust can play an important role. This type of trust can be funded with diverse investments and customized to your family needs. It could be used to pay for the following types of expenses:
- Specialty equipment
- Classes and training
- Transportation or companion help
The trust might even be able to pay for an occasional vacation or trip to the movies. Providing these little things can improve quality of life.
What is the difference between a revocable versus an irrevocable trust? How do you set up and fund a trust? Who should you designate as trustee? Might a “pay-back” provision require that remaining money be paid to the government at the death of your loved one?
For personalized advice and answers to these questions, speak with one of our attorneys. Each situation is different and we can help you build a customized plan that will not impact Medicaid eligibility.