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Should your estate plan include a special needs trust?

| Mar 17, 2021 | Trusts |

It’s normal for parents to worry about what’s going to happen to their children once they both pass away. For some parents, the concern is magnified by the fact that they have one or more children with special needs. 

Many individuals who have special needs count on needs-based governmental programs, like Supplemental Security Income, to get the care they need. Because of this, the parents can’t just leave them a large windfall in an estate plan. Instead, they need to think carefully about how to assist them financially without impacting the programs that provide them with assistance. A special needs trust is the answer to this conundrum.

What is a special needs trust?

A special needs trust is an irrevocable trust that uses your assets to care for the individual who has special needs. The trust and the disbursement of assets are overseen by a trustee, so the person who’s benefiting from it doesn’t have control of the assets. It’s also specifically designed not to interfere with their governmental benefits. 

The trust can only be used for certain expenses. There is specific wording that must be included so that it’s clear that the funds can’t be used for specific types of regular living expenses. Since the person doesn’t control the assets, the value of the trust isn’t counted when trying to determine eligibility for those important need-based programs. 

It’s imperative that you have everything in order if you’re creating a special needs trust. Mistakes could mean that the individual loses access to the benefits they need. Your attorney can help you to ensure that you have the trust set up for your child’s protection and so your wishes are complied with. 

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