Protecting Your Children With a Special Needs Trust
A special needs trust is a legal document that allows an individual with a disability or special needs receive financial support while protecting their eligibility for government benefits. The trust is like a container that holds money and assets of a person with disabilities or special needs. The trust can protect this money so the individual can receive extra support while keeping their government benefits intact.
Highlights of a Special Needs Trust
- What Is a Trust: A special savings plan for people with disabilities or special needs.
- How Does a Trust Work: A trusts and estate lawyer sets up the trust, puts money in it, and chooses a person to manage it called a trustee.
- Who Benefits From A Trust: The person with a disability or special needs is called a beneficiary of the trust.
- Why Is A Trust Important: People with disabilities who receive government benefits can protect their savings and still not lose their government help.
- What Kinds of Trusts Are There: Trusts differ based on where the money in the trust comes from such as savings or money from a relative like a grandparent.
How a Special Needs Trust Is Used
Parents getting divorced who have a child with special needs might consider a special needs trust. The money in trust can be used to pay for things that improve the beneficiary’s life such as medical expenses, education, travel, entertainment, and more. The money cannot be given directly to the beneficiary for things like rent, because that might affect their government benefits. The essence of the trust is to ensure their loved one with disabilities continue to receive crucial assistance while still being allowed additional financial support.
How Does It Work?
- Trust Creator (Grantor): Someone, often a family member, sets up the trust for the benefit of a person with a disability. This person is called the grantor.
- Trustee: A trustee is the person chosen to manage the trust. This person could be a family member, friend, or a professional.
- Funds and Assets: Money, property, or other assets are put into the trust by the grantor. These assets belong to the trust and managed by the trustee.
- Beneficiary: The person with special needs is the beneficiary. The trust is meant to improve their quality of life by providing extra financial help.
Why Is It Important?
Government aid programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) help people with disabilities. A disabled person who has too much money or assets in their name could lose access to crucial programs. Money and assets in a special needs trust do not count against the person when they apply for government benefits. This protection allows them to get the help they need from government resources. Always seek legal advice to set up a trust properly according to the specific laws in your area.
A special needs trust should be considered when you are contemplating divorce or in the process of a divorce. The special needs of children should never be overlooked in a divorce settlement. Maya Murphy, P.C. specializes in trusts and estates as well as education law, and divorce and family law. Special needs trusts must be prepared properly to protect assets and benefits for people with learning challenges and disabilities.
Written by Attorney Mediator Susan Wakefield
If you have any questions or would like to speak to one of our skilled professionals about setting up a special needs trust in your divorce, please contact Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221 – 3100 or via email at JMaya@mayalaw.com or SWakefield@mayalaw.com. Our firm offers free consultations in person or video conference to discuss your trusts and estates matters, divorce, or other matters we handle here at Maya Murphy.