Using a Special Needs Trust to Assist a Disabled Family Member

Web Admin - Friday, August 10, 2018
Inverness estate planning trust attorneyPeople who have saved money or accumulated assets over the course of their lifetime will often want to pass these assets on to their loved ones, either before or after their death. This is especially true when family members have disabilities or other special needs. However, when providing financial assistance to these family members, it is important to make sure that doing so will not make them ineligible for the public benefits they need to meet their needs. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you protect your loved ones’ interests by establishing a special needs trust.

Benefits of a Special Needs Trust

People with mental or physical disabilities are usually able to receive government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. However, eligibility for these benefits is based on the income earned and assets owned by the recipient; in most cases, a recipient must own no more than $2,000 in assets, and there are also limits on the amount of income they can earn. This means that if a well-meaning family member gives them money or other assets, either through a direct gift or an inheritance, it may make them ineligible for the benefits they need. 

To avoid jeopardizing a disabled person’s ability to receive public benefits, their family members can use a special needs trust (sometimes called a supplemental needs trust). This is a type of irrevocable trust in which the assets will be placed under the control of a trustee, which could be another family member or a financial institution. The trustee will then ensure that the assets are used to provide for the beneficiary’s needs.

There are specific rules that must be followed in special needs trusts. For instance, the trust can only be used to pay for certain expenses related to the beneficiary’s care, such as the costs of medical equipment, caretakers, transportation, or educational expenses. Using funds from a trust to pay for food or housing may make a beneficiary ineligible for public aid. 

Contact a Schaumburg Trust Attorney

Since a disabled person will often need assistance throughout their entire life, it is important to ensure that trusts are set up in a way that will provide them with the resources they need for many years to come. An Arlington Heights estate planning lawyer at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help you create a special needs trust that meets your loved one’s needs, and we can help you address any other estate planning needs, ensuring that you can provide for your family both before and after your death. Contact us at 847-934-6000 to arrange a personalized consultation.

About the Author: Attorney Jay Andrew is a founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC. He is a graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law and has been practicing in estate planning, probate, trust administration, real estate law, residential/ commercial leasing, contracts, and civil litigation. Since 2005, Jay has been a Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the Annual Northwest Suburban Bar Association High School Mock Trial Invitation which serves over 240 local Illinois students each year.


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