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Special Needs Trusts

Almost all parents and families who have children (or other family members) with special needs worry about what will happen once the parents are gone. Many parents wonder who will take care of their child or where will they get the support the child needs to have a healthy and meaningful life. To accomplish this goal, parents should consider creating a special needs trust.

A special needs trust is structured to enhance a disabled child’s or other loved one’s life by allowing them to benefit from an inheritance while still maintaining government benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. By using a special needs trust, a disabled child’s inheritance would not be considered “available” and would not disqualify the disabled child from needs based government assistance. Not only does this type of planning maximize the preservation of the disabled child’s inheritance, it also provides a source of funding for the child over and above available governmental benefits, which significantly enhances the child’s quality of life. Simply put, it can significantly supplement the minimal benefits the government can provide.

This option works because a trustee receives the special needs child’s inheritance (or other source of funding) rather than the child him or herself. The child is never the legal owner of any of the assets and therefore has nothing that is “available” to be counted by the government as a resource. A special needs trust often springs into existence at the time of a parent’s death through the directions of a trust or a will. However, special needs trusts may be set up at any time, which often allows close friends and family members to contribute funds to the trust during the lifetime of the special needs child.

Some of the things that a special needs trust can provide for a disabled child or other family member without compromising government benefits include:

In additional to providing important financial support to a child, a special needs trust can be designed to encourage activities such as special olympics or other sporting activities, religious activities, and important cultural events. It can also outline important information regarding caregivers, advocates, and living accommodations. Although no one will ever come close to taking the place of the parents, a special needs trust can go a long way towards outlining, describing, and encouraging the best and most important values and aspirations of a parent, which is often most important of all.

Elliot has helped families all along the Wasatch Front plan for their children with disabilities by providing highly personalized and customized special needs trusts to meet their unique individual and family situations.