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Special Needs Trusts

Planning for individuals with disabilities, whether physical or mental, young or old, requires special care.  Fortunately, a well-crafted trust which complies with applicable Federal and state laws, can preserve an individual’s eligibility for critical Social Security and Medicaid benefits, while allowing the assets of the trust to supplement the individual’s needs.  Special Needs Trusts (sometimes referred to as Supplemental Needs Trusts) are complicated, but their primary purpose is to improve the quality of an individual’s life, without disqualifying the individual from eligibility for public benefits.

Different types of Special Needs Trusts can be created, but the two primary types are:

  1. “Self-Settled” Special Needs Trusts – trusts established by the disabled beneficiary with the beneficiary’s own funds (such as an inheritance, proceeds from a personal injury suit, or other savings
  2. “Third Party” Special Needs Trusts – trusts established by someone other than the disabled beneficiary (such as a parent, grandparent or friend), with assets that never belonged to the disabled beneficiary

A third common type of Special Needs Trust is a “Sole Benefit” Trust.  When an elderly individual needs long-term care in a skilled nursing facility, an unlimited gift of assets belonging to the elder may be transferred with no look-back penalty to a Special Needs Trust for the sole benefit of a disabled individual, such as a disabled child or grandchild. 

Each type of Special Needs Trust has unique administration requirements and is subject to different taxation rules. 

Contact us to find out more about setting up or administering a Special Needs Trust.