If you have a child or dependent who will require care long after you're gone, you'll want to seriously consider a special needs trust. A trust will allow your loved one to still receive disability-related benefits, while also giving their carers access to property and funds to continue properly caring for them upon your death.
What are the Benefits?
Instead of leaving a lump sum of money or other assets to a loved one who is either mentally or physically disabled, a special needs trust will allow them use of such things without jeopardizing the aid they already receive.
A lump sum of cash can impact eligibility for aid already being received, such as SSI-Disability or a housing allowance. Since there is a trustee in charge of the trust, none of the assets actually goes into the possession of the beneficiary, so government agencies do not count them as an asset.
What Is Needed to Set Up a Trust?
The most important part of a trust is the actual trust document. This can be drafted without the help of an attorney, though complicated circumstances may require an attorney's advice. This document lays out information such as the purpose (supplemental care), as well as the trustee(s) and their responsibility to use the assets only for the good of the beneficiary.
If you don't feel comfortable naming someone you know trustee, there is such a thing as a pooled trust. A nonprofit organization will assign a trustee to your beneficiary's trust. While this arrangement doesn't work for everybody, it's something to consider.
Why Consider a Special Needs Trust Over Other Options?
A special needs trust is a legally-binding document that will ensure your loved one gets the care and support they need. You may be wondering why you can't leave it directly to your loved one to use as they see fit (if they're mentally capable), or leave it to a trusted friend or family member to use for your loved one's care.
If you were to leave your property directly to your loved one, they would most likely not qualify for the services and benefits they deserve. The trust is set up to serve as supplemental care, not their sole source of income. Unfortunately, any assets in your loved one's possession will be counted as assets they could use to support themselves, even if it's not enough to cover their lifelong needs.
To leave it to another individual could be disastrous. Even if they intend to only use it for the good of your loved one, it could be seized by creditors, leaving your loved one with nothing.
When it comes to caring for a disabled loved one upon your death, there are many options available to consider. If you're unsure which option would be best for you, contact an estate planning attorney like one from Vandeventer Black LLP. They can help you decide which option would provide the best care to your loved one.
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