When a person has a physical or mental disability, he or she may benefit from a special needs trust. The special needs trust allows a trustee to manage property for the person and is created with his or her needs and lifestyle in mind. For example, the trustee can purchase personal care items and pay for education expenses, vehicles, medical and dental expenses and other items the person requires.
The person for whom the property is managed is called the beneficiary. Usually, the trust can stay in place until the beneficiary passes away or the funds in the trust have been exhausted.
It’s important to choose the trustee wisely because they have significant responsibilities. The trustee can be a family member, trusted friend or a third party appointed by the court.
Special needs trusts have several benefits. For example, if the beneficiary is eligible for government programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid, he or she can be disqualified if they receive assets or a large sum of money.
By creating a special needs trust, the trustee has control over the management of the funds instead of the beneficiary. As a result, SSI and Medicaid do not include trust assets when considering the beneficiary’s eligibility for these programs.
Even if a family does not want to pursue government benefits for their loved one currently, the special needs trust still addresses the disabled person’s specific needs. Families may want to consider that government benefits could be helpful to their loved one in the future.
Special needs trusts can also protect funds from being subject to a judgement. An experienced attorney can provide advice and representation to families to ensure their loved one is protected.