Special Needs Trusts

Estate planning is a daunting challenge in families. It is even harder for families of a loved one with a disability. Arranging for a trust, trustee and trustee bond may be useful—and reassuring.

Establish a Trust

The National Law Review also recommends establishing a Special Needs Trust for the beneficiary with a disability. This type of trust is also referred to as a Supplemental Needs Trust or SNT. As explained by the National Law Review:

"This specialized trust allows assets that family members and friends contribute to it to pay for goods or services that are in the beneficiary’s best interest, while also maintaining the beneficiary’s eligibility for means-tested government assistance programs. In planning for an individual with special needs, money is not everything — there may be residences or programs that require the person with special needs to be eligible for benefits such as Medicaid or SSI and do not accept private payment. A SNT allows the beneficiary to have the best of both worlds."

A special needs trust is established to prevent people from losing benefits from certain government programs after receiving a settlement. An influx of wealth can make one ineligible for benefits from Supplementary Security Income (SSI), Veterans Aid and Attendance, Medicaid, and government housing. A special needs trust supplements, but does not replace, these benefits by paying for non-covered services or equipment.

Keep in mind that a trustee will need to be appointed to oversee the trust.

Select The Trustee Thoughtfully

As a caregiver, there is probably nothing more important to you than ensuring your loved one is happy and well when you are no longer able to oversee their affairs. In fact, as the National Law Review points out regarding trustee selection:

"This is probably the most important and most difficult decision you will make in setting up a SNT. In selecting your trustee, the most important qualifications are loyalty and competency in administering the trust. The trustee is the quarterback of the plan who can hire financial advisors, attorneys, accountants, bookkeepers, social workers, and care managers. The trustee can delegate but must oversee everything."

Categories: Trusts

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