Today’s Elder Care Matters Q&A provides information about Special Needs Planning
Question: What is the purpose of a Special Needs Trust and when should a Special Needs Trust be established?
Answer: While you can certainly bequest money and assets to those with special needs, such a bequest may prevent them from qualifying for essential benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid programs. However, public monetary benefits provide only for the bare necessities such as food, housing and clothing. As you can imagine, these limited benefits will not provide those loved ones with the resources that would allow them to enjoy a richer quality of life. But if parents leave any assets to their child who is receiving public benefits, they run the risk of disqualifying the child from receiving them. Fortunately, the government has established rules allowing assets to be held in trust, called a “Special Needs” or “Supplemental Needs” Trust for the benefit of a recipient of SSI and Medicaid, as long as certain requirements are met.
Generally, a Special Needs Trust should be established no later than the beneficiary’s 65th birthday. If you have a disabled or chronically ill beneficiary, you may want to consider establishing the Special Needs Trust at an early age. One benefit of having the Trust in place is that if the disabled beneficiary become the recipient of funds such as gifts, bequests or a settlement from a lawsuit they can immediately be transferred to the Special Needs Trust without affecting that individual’s eligibility for government benefits.
Today’s Answer was provided by Jeffrey M. Janeiro, Attorney at Law, with The Law Office of Jeffrey M. Janeiro, P.L. in Naples, Florida. Attorney Janeiro is a Partner Member in the National ElderCare Matters Alliance.
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What is the purpose of a Special Needs Trust and when should a Special Needs Trust be established?