Special Needs Planning

What is the purpose of a Special Needs Trust?

When should a Special Needs Trust be established?

Who can establish a Special Needs Trust?

Our family is wealthy. Do we still need to create a Special Needs Trust?





Q: What is the purpose of a Special Needs Trust?

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 your loved ones with the resources that would allow them to enjoy a richer quality of life.  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.


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Q: When should a Special Needs Trust be established?

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 becomes 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.


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Q: Who can establish a Special Needs Trust?

While Special Needs Trusts are typically established by parents for their disabled children, any third party can establish a Special Needs Trust for the benefit of a disabled beneficiary.  It is important to seek the assistance of competent counsel when creating a Special Needs Trust because a poorly drafted Trust can easily be subject to “invasion” by the government agencies that provide benefits.  Our law firm has the experience and the expertise to establish effective Special Needs Trusts for anyone who wishes to provide for a disabled beneficiary.


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Q: Our family is wealthy. Do we still need to create a Special Needs Trust?

Yes, you should still establish a Special Needs Trust to protect your disabled beneficiaries from potential creditors.  For example, if your disabled beneficiaries are ever sued in a personal injury action, the assets in the trust would not be available to the plaintiffs.  Furthermore, because the funds in the Special Needs Trust are not countable as available assets for purposes of determining government benefit eligibility, more of your money can be used for those supplemental expenditures that will allow your disabled beneficiary to enjoy a higher quality of life.  Otherwise, much of your assets will be used to pay for private care benefits that are extremely expensive and can drain even significant sums of money over time.


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Vaughn-Martel Law represents clients in Suffolk County, Middlesex County, Essex County, Norfolk County, Plymouth County, Bristol County, Worcester County, Hampden County, and Franklin County. In Suffolk County MA, our Boston divorce attorneys and other attorneys can represent you if you reside in Allston MA 02134, Boston MA, East Boston MA 02128, Back Bay MA 02116, Beacon Hill MA 02114, Brighton MA 02135, Revere MA 02151, Cambridge MA 02139, Cambridge MA 02140, Charlestown MA 02129, Jamaica Plain MA 02130, Winthrop MA 02152, Roxbury MA 02118, Roxbury Mission Hill MA 02120, and Chelsea MA 02150.

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