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Special Needs Trust Planning

Everyone knows of a relative, friend, or colleague who are challenged by some type of incapacitating physical, mental, or developmental disability on a daily basis. When planning for such individuals, there must be special considerations and there are unique challenges for estate planning. One of the biggest concerns of families with disabled family members is how to best structure the long-term funding of personal and financial needs. Providing for such long-term funding allows families to take care of disabled family members over their lifetime.

Families with disabled family members can take advantage of the benefits of the special needs trust (also known as the supplemental needs trust). The special needs trust is an irrevocable trust which allows a person to remain eligible for public benefit programs while receiving a supplemental income stream for non-necessity items (such as vacation trips, salon visits, nail salons, gifts for children and grandchildren, etc.). Careful drafting of the special needs trust can allow the disabled beneficiary to become and remain eligible for need-based government benefits, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, which often serve as significant sources of funding for the disabled beneficiary’s special needs.

A special needs trust is irrevocable and cannot be modified upon execution. The special needs trust can be a self-settled special needs trust (if it is created by the public benefits beneficiary) or a third party special needs trust (if it is created by a family member on behalf of the public benefits beneficiary). This depends wholly on the capacity and the financial situation of the special needs individual.

Learn more about the most common irrevocable trusts:

Learn more about the different estate planning strategies:

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