Special Needs Trust

A Special Needs Trust can be set up and funded by anyone on behalf of the disabled individual with resources not belonging to or owned by the beneficiary.

Why Special Needs Trusts are important

They protect government benefits eligibility – The Special Needs Trust allows an individual with disabilities to have funds available for his or her benefit without the funds counting as a financial asset for benefit eligibility purposes

They protect the opportunity to access superior care and services options – Even where a beneficiary never needs Federal or State public benefits and services (which is very rare, but does happen) consider the special life management needs he or she still has, and use a SNT as part of a comprehensive plan to meet those needs in an organized manner.

Without Special Needs Trusts many individuals with disabilities would be relegated to subsistence living and have access to fewer opportunities and options. They have a typically greater disparity between income potential and the outflow. (expenses) They have higher medical care costs and may need special equipment. Transportation is going to be more expensive, and might need special help with even the most basic tasks. Public benefits are almost always vital for basic needs or as a safety net.

Putting it all together, What is an Supplemental Needs Trust?

A Supplemental Needs Trust is a special kind of trust which holds title to property for the benefit of a child or adult who has a disability. The funds in the Trust can be used to supplement benefits received from various governmental assistance programs including SSI and Medicaid. A special needs trust will manage a variety of resources for the benefit of the injured or disabled person while maintaining the person’s eligibility for public assistance benefits.

  • A Supplemental Needs Trust is, first of all, a Trust for the benefit of an individual under the age of 65 who qualifies as being “disabled”
  • The Beneficiary has no direct control or access to funds in the Trust
  • A Trustee manages the trust and has broad discretion to make distributions on behalf of Beneficiary according to trust distribution directives.

Result: Trust assets do not count against the beneficiary’s resources or assets.

As an essential component of a comprehensive care plan, the well designed Special Needs Trust (SNT)  will, at the same time

  • Protect public benefits – The Special Needs Trust puts a middle step between the money or resources, and the person with a disability.   Assets in trust do not count as resources to the individual with special needs and thus preserves eligibility for public benefits such as SSI and Medicaid.
  • Protect the quality of care – A well designed Special Needs Trust provides for vastly superior care options and opportunities for treatment and rehabilitation, housing, electronic equipment, computers, job training, vacations etc.  Supplemental items that will enhance dignity, productivity and comfort

Whatever the extent of your resources, preparing and executing a good Special Needs Estate Plan will make more effective use of those resources.