Special Needs Trusts

I have had many people express to me their concern for providing for a disabled child after they die.  They are worried that if they leave that child any money that the child will lose any benefits they might be receiving.  I explain to them that there is a way to put money aside for that disabled child and still keep them eligible for benefits.  This is done through a special needs trust. 

A special needs trust (often referred to as an SNT) is a trust that is setup for a person who is disabled (or might become disabled) as a way to set aside money for that person without jeopardizing their ability to continue to receive or apply for needs based public assistance such as SSI and Medi-Cal (Medicaid).  SNTs are used for a variety of purposes.  These include paying for traveling companions, clothing, furniture, medical costs not covered by Medi-Cal, transportation, home electronics, paying for a private room in a nursing facility, paying rent and other housing costs, buying groceries, paying utilities, etc.

There are two major types of SNTs.  The first type is a third-person SNT.  This is setup by a person as part of their estate plan to benefit another person (typically a parent setting one up for a child).  The SNT can be created directly in the creator’s will or trust or it can be created as a separate, standalone trust.  Both options have advantages and disadvantages which can be explained during a free consultation.

The second type is called a first-person SNT.  These types of SNTs are created on behalf of, and funded with, the money of the disabled person.  Because of this, there are several differences between these and third-person SNTs.  Typically, this type of SNT will be needed when the disabled person receives a large sum of money that they may or may not have been expecting.  Typical examples include receiving a personal injury settlement, receiving a death benefit from life insurance, or receiving an inheritance.  There are a number of requirements that need to be met in order to create this type of trust. These requirements, as well as the applicability of this type of trust, can be discussed during a free consultation with me.