Protecting the benefits your special needs child receives
From the time you learned that your child had special needs, your life’s mission was to protect him or her. It does not matter if your child’s disability occurred at birth or was the result of an injury or accident. You have provided whatever was necessary for your loved one even when it required great personal sacrifice.
Can you be certain your child will receive the same devotion when you are no longer around? This is likely a question that haunts you on long, sleepless nights, and maybe you feel it is time to take steps to establish a secure financial future for your loved one. If he or she depends on government programs for benefits, such as Medicaid or Social Security, you will want to be certain your financial preparations do not jeopardize those benefits. You can do this by establishing a special needs trust.
The benefits of a special needs trust
Government programs have strict rules for eligibility, including a firm limit on the amount of assets a recipient may possess. Parents and grandparents who are not aware of these restrictions may disqualify their loved ones by leaving gifts or outright bequests to them in their wills.
A trust allows someone with special needs to have access to funds without losing eligibility for federal benefits because the trust itself owns the assets funded to it. Additionally, a special needs trust is irrevocable, which means lawsuits or creditors cannot touch the assets you fund to it.
How your loved one uses the trust
After you establish a trust for your loved one, you can fund the trust with money or other assets, such as insurance policies or investments. You can also encourage your child’s grandparents or others to name the trust in their wills instead of naming the child. It is important that you choose a reliable trustee, preferably one with experience in handling special needs trusts, to manage the trust and disburse funds as your loved one needs.
Your instructions for the trust can provide for specific needs your loved one may have, but it is critical that you use clear and explicit language to ensure no misunderstanding of those directives. When you are no longer able to care for your child, your chosen trustee will manage the assets in the trust and comply with the instructions you leave. Not only will your loved one have the benefits of the funds in the trust, but you will have peace of mind knowing you have provided for your child.