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A Special Needs Trust for Special Needs Children

Cartoon of elderly people

March is Developmental Disability Awareness month.  If you’re the parent of a minor with special needs, this is a good time to take stock of estate planning provisions you’ve made for him or her.

One critical planning tool is the Special Needs Trust.  Setting up this trust will help supplement the government assistance your child may be eligible to receive for medical, housing, and educational expenses. Here’s how it works:

  • Government benefits, such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, provide developmentally disabled individuals with, among other things, financial assistance for medical treatments and supplies, tuition, and in-home care.  However, in order to receive this assistance, a disabled person may not have more than a total of $2000 in assets.
  • A Special Needs Trust permits you to set aside funds for your special needs child to supplement these government benefits.  The trust is overseen by a trustee (who may not be the special needs person), and funds may be placed in the trust gradually over time or left to the trust in your Will.  The key point is that the funds may not be left directly to the special needs individual.  To do so would make that person ineligible for government assistance if the inheritance increased his/her total assets beyond the $2,000 limit.

The old saying, “No man is an island,” certainly applies here.  Consulting with financial and legal professionals to make sure that you’ve properly executed the trust is highly recommended.  And it’s critical to inform loved ones who may be planning on leaving your child an inheritance that gifts should be made directly to the trust.

Getting Legal Help

Reviewing your Special Needs estate plans annually is a good way to make sure that you’re optimizing the assistance your child may be eligible to receive from both the government and you.  Experienced Estate Planning Attorney, Elga A. Goodman, can help you with all your Special Needs  issues.  Contact us today at 973-841-5111.

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