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SPECIAL NEEDS TRUSTS

by: Begley Law Group

by Thomas D. Begley, Jr., Esquire, CELA

THE PROBLEM

The problem begins when we are unable to continue to care for our child with disabilities.  The following items must be considered now.

Where Will Our Child Live? 

Are other family members willing and able to have our child move in with them?  It is good to have a conversation with family members to see how they feel.  Even if they are willing, are they physically and financially able to make this commitment? Will our child need to live in a group home?  If so, is there a family member to look in on our child ensure they are receiving the care required?

Life Care Plan 

What will our child’s needs be?  It is advisable to obtain a Life Care Plan.  Life Care Planners, working with the family, can determine the present and future costs of such items as our child’s medical care requirements, transportation, architectural renovations, recreations opportunities, and the ability of the child to attend school or to work.  A determination can then be made regarding how much money to place in the Special Needs Trust.

WHAT IS A SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST?

A Special Needs Trust is a trust created for a person who is disabled to supplement that person’s public benefits and to remain eligible for public benefits.  The trust is prepared by a lawyer who specializes in Elder and Disability Law. The grantor of the trust is typically the parent of the child with disabilities who will eventually fund the trust on the death of the parent.  The beneficiary of the trust is the child with disabilities.  Monies in the trust are used for the benefit of the child.  The trustee is the entity that manages the money, invests it for growth, and makes distributions.  It is always wise to designate a professional trustee.  Public benefit rules constantly change.  If a family member is named as trustee, they seldom keep up with the changes and this often leads to problems.  The problems include a loss of public benefits for the beneficiary.  The family member serving as trustee can be sued for failing to administer the trust properly.