Your guide to a Special Needs Trust

For families of people with special needs or disabilities, the need to ensure they will be supported and provided for through their whole lives is an especially important factor in their financial planning. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is through a Special Needs Trust which can be created by your estate planning attorney.

Why set up a Special Needs Trust? 

One of the primary challenges that special needs and disabled persons face when it comes to financial support is becoming eligible – and maintaining eligibility for – needs-based government benefits, including Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. Without proper estate planning, this eligibility can be compromised. For example, leaving your home or personal effects to your loved one will not compromise their benefits, but leaving a large sum of cash will.

How does a Special Needs Trust help? 

This allows you to leave your property and other assets to the trust, rather than directly to your loved one – leaving their eligibility for benefits unaffected. You will be directed to name a trustee who will have complete discretion over the assets in the trust and will spend the money on your loved one’s behalf, ensuring the trust is ignored by SSI and Medicaid administrators. In this way, your assets can be used to purchase care services, food, medical expenses, therapy services and much more for your loved one.

In addition, trusts are kept fully accessible to trustees and are not subject to probate, ensuring your loved one’s needs can be met immediately, without having to wait out the probate process.

How do I choose a trustee? 

The trustee you select will have full access to your assets, so it’s important you choose someone who is honest, trustworthy, financially knowledgeable and has your loved one’s best interests at heart. Be sure to take into account their health and age and name successor trustees to ensure that the trust will be managed throughout your loved one’s lifetime.

You can also choose a corporate trustee who is experienced in acting in this role or appoint your attorney as co-trustee. Your attorney will draft the documents as part of your estate plan, monitor requests, prepare distributions of money or assets and invest the assets.

Speak to estate planning attorneys in New Jersey today 

At Sedita, Campisano & Campisano, LLC, experienced estate planning attorneys can assist you with creating a Special Needs Trust or drawing up other legal documents including Power of Attorney, medical directives and Wills. For more information or to speak to an attorney, please contact us today.

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