What Can A Special Needs Trust Accomplish?
All parents and grandparents worry about their children. If you have a loved one with an intellectual or physical disability, you might be especially concerned about whether they have access to the financial resources they will need for a lifetime.
Thankfully, legal solutions are available. At Frisella Neilson, APC, in San Diego, our experienced estate planning attorneys can help you establish a supplemental needs trust, which can also be referred to as a special needs trust, on behalf of your child or another loved one. These customizable legal instruments are designed to provide for individuals who may not be in a position to be fully self-sufficient or financially independent. A special needs trust may also be the right solution for you if your child or loved one receives and needs significant medical benefits. A special needs trust if done properly will not disqualify your loved one from continuing to receive those benefits.
How A Third-Party Special Needs Trust Works
The two main categories of special needs trusts are first-party and third-party trusts (named for who provides the funding for the trust). An SNT created for your child or family member will be a third-party trust.
In consultation with an attorney, you will establish and fund a trust to cover the financial and care needs of the beneficiary. You can include detailed instructions regarding how the funds are to be used and how/when they should be distributed. Typical expenses funded by a third-party SNT could include housing, transportation, education, medical care and services, hobbies and recreation, and more.
The trustee is in charge of disbursing trust assets in accordance with the established terms. The beneficiary will have no access to these funds or responsibility for managing payments. SNTs can help parents feel confident that their children will continue to receive care and support even when the parents are no longer around to provide help and oversight.
Maintaining Access To Government Benefits
Adults who cannot work due to a disability may be eligible for important benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. Unfortunately, the income thresholds for these programs are very low, and someone receiving even modest support from a family member could suddenly become ineligible because their income is deemed too high.
The reassuring news is that a third-party SNT allows you to support your child without compromising eligibility for benefits. While the trust assets are intended to support the beneficiary, they do not belong to the beneficiary and the beneficiary cannot receive direct payments from the SNT. As such, they are not included as income or assets when calculating eligibility for SSI or Medicaid.
The Guidance Of An Experienced Lawyer Is Critical
Trusts of any kind are complex. While you could attempt to establish one on your own, any mistake or oversight might render your efforts ineffective or be costly to fix. When you contact our firm, our knowledgeable attorneys will guide you through the process from start to finish, ensuring that your special needs trust accurately reflects your wishes and goals and meets the needs of the beneficiary.
Speak To One Of Our Attorneys
Frisella Neilson, APC, is based in San Diego and we serve clients throughout California. Our attorneys have earned a reputation for going above and beyond for clients, whether we are providing transactional work or protecting their interests in litigation.