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Special Needs Trusts

For families that include a person with special needs, a Special Needs Trust might be a necessary part of your estate plan. “Special Needs” can include, but is not limited to, developmental disabilities, incapacitation, substance abuse or addiction, mental instability, dementia, schizophrenia, or other challenges.

Patricia Kelly

Business Law Consultant

A Special Needs Trust is designed for someone with special needs and public benefits to avoid their being disqualified from receiving public benefits. The trust assets only subsidize the person’s needs and do not supplant the beneficiary’s public benefits.

Because Special Needs Trusts deal with public benefits and governmental regulations, they must be written very specifically. Incorrectly drafted Special Needs Trusts can disqualify a disabled person from their benefits. Therefore it is important that an attorney be consulted if you think a Special Needs Trust would benefit someone in your life.

Normally, Special Needs Trusts hold assets in trust for the beneficiary and are only there if the public benefits fall short from providing for them in some way. Special Needs Trust can therefore pay for things like caregivers, physical therapists, or specialists, if public benefits will not pay for those extra medical needs. The Trust can also pay for things like laptops and other household items if they do not drastically affect the beneficiary’s asset threshold.

If the Trustee chooses, and if the Special Needs Trust is drafted to allow such action, the Trustee could pay for upgraded housing for the beneficiary. This would very likely diminish the beneficiary’s public benefits, but if the Trustee chooses (and it’s allowed by the terms of the Trust), and it is in the best interest of the beneficiary, then the Trustee may do so.

With this very limited information, it is clear that Special Needs Trusts are complicated and sensitive documents. A consultation with an attorney is necessary when considering a Special Needs Trust. Please contact us if you would like to discuss these trusts further.

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