After you pass, you want to make sure your family member or loved one with special needs can have the absolute best care and stability as possible. In other words, like any family member, you care about their life being able to continue thriving, and not just sustaining after your passing. In this case, it may be in your best interest to create a special needs trust for your loved one, and a special needs trust lawyer would be one of the first steps in order to do so. A trusted, experienced lawyer, like one of the lawyers at W.B. Moore Law, can walk you through the tedious steps of opening this trust and create a financial plan that will set up your disabled loved one for a prominent future. A special needs trust ultimately allows someone disabled to receive their inheritance while still receiving the public benefits. We’ve listed a few components below that further elaborate on how you can make the most of your special needs trust.
First and foremost, a trust is a separate legal entity. And in order to qualify for most public benefit programs, a disabled person must show they have limited income. So unfortunately, if a parent leaves all of their assets directly to their disabled child, this inheritance must first be spent down before they can qualify for medical and financial benefits programs. But, if access to such funds is restricted so that only a trustee, court, or third person has the power to make distributions from the trust fund, then these funds are considered legally unavailable to the beneficiary, and therefore are not counted for public benefits purposes. In short, a special needs trust can allow your beneficiary to still qualify for Medicaid.
Special needs trusts from an overall standpoint are intended to supplement, rather than replace, services and supplies already provided by a public benefits program. It should be made clear in the trust that funds are not legally available to your beneficiary in the sense they cannot require a distribution. Common examples of acceptable payments that can be paid for by the trustee are physical therapy, dental care, tuition, hobbies, vehicles, internet, health, and life insurance, clothing, and a pre-paid funeral plan. Common examples of distribution that can majorly affect your beneficiary’s public benefits program are payment of rent or mortgage, electricity bills, groceries, and cash distributions to the beneficiary. Your lawyer can further clarify what is and isn’t ideal for distributing future funds to your disabled loved one.
Third-party trusts is the overall term for a trust that handles assets that belong to someone other than the beneficiary. The most common example of a third-party trust is when a parent creates a trust in their will for their child. A self-settled trust is a trust that contains assets that the disabled person already owns or is legally entitled to – such as their own savings or a personal injury settlement. It’s important to discuss the differences between these types of trusts with your lawyer because a third-party trust has overall more flexibility. Third-party trusts can allow funds of the original disabled beneficiary to be passed along to another family member once the disabled beneficiary passes away.