Establishing a Special Needs Trust for Your Family

Special and specific considerations need to be made if not only a child of yours has special needs, but also if there is any child in your family that has special needs.  Estate planning, and specifically trusts for special needs children or adults, have these primary objectives for the family and special needs child:

  • Remain eligible for government entitle programs, such as SSI and Medicaid;

  • Protect family assets from seizure by government as reimbursement; and

  • Protect child’s inheritance from seizure by government as reimbursement.

These objectives not only extend to parents, but anyone who can either inherit and receive under an estate plan. For example, if your nephew has special needs you need to evaluate your estate plan. Even if your estate plan first leaves your estate to your spouse, and then your parents, and then according to the intestate laws (laws of succession), there is a chance your nephew may eventually receive under your estate plan, if both your spouse and your parents predecease you.  While this may be an unfortunate circumstance many people do not want to consider, a potentially equally as unfortunate circumstance is your nephew being disallowed to receive government benefits because he is receiving part or all of your estate.

To ensure that your special needs children are taken care of you, you will want to contact extended family to modify estate plan or beneficiary designation. If you are uncomfortable starting this conversation, it is crucial to talk to an attorney to help with this process.

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