If you have a child who has special needs and is unable to care for themselves because of those needs, you may be interested in setting up a Special Needs Trust. Otherwise known as a Supplemental Needs Trust or an SNT, a Special Needs Trust is designed to ensure that your child has access to assets without compromising their eligibility for public benefits. Consult with an Elder Law Attorney for your trust needs and for information on how to create an Estate Plan that will work for your loved one long after you are gone.
Determine How Much to Put in the Trust
One of the first steps you should take when undergoing this type of Estate Planning is calculate how much you need to put into the trust. The amount depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to the nature of the disability, the disabled person’s level of ability to care for themselves, and the anticipated level of future care required. Of course, the amount will also vary depending upon the family’s resources. While there is no minimum amount required, you should consult with a financial planner to set aside enough money for your loved one. If you do not have a significant amount of money up front, don’t worry, as trusts may be funded by inheritances, family assets, life insurance policies, and lawsuit awards as well.
Start Building a Trust Team
Whether you are disabled and wish to create a first-party Special Needs Trust for yourself, or you wish to create a third-party Special Needs Trust with your money for a disabled child, someone will need to manage the trust when you are no longer able to do so. Start building a team of people you can count on now, beginning with an experienced Elder Law Attorney.
Choosing the right trustee is a critical decision. It may be a trusted loved one, friend, or financial institution. Remember, the people you choose are the people who will be responsible for your child’s (or your own) financial future, so you want to make sure that they are people who are qualified, trustworthy, and apt to stick around for a while.
Involve the Whole Family
If you have several beneficiaries, it is imperative that they know not to make contributions to the disabled individual outside of the trust. This may sound cruel, but if money or assets pass directly to the disabled person, that money will disqualify them from public assistance needs-based benefits. If family wishes to bequeath items to the disabled individual, it is important that they do so via the trust.
Work with an Elder Law Attorney
Devising a trust is a complex and tricky task, and even just a single mistake can render your efforts fruitless, resulting in serious consequences to your loved one. A skilled Elder Law Attorney can help you navigate the process and create a solution that works for your loved one long into the future. For help with your unique Estate Planning needs, contact Elder Law Group PLLC, today.