What Is A Special Needs Trust?

There are two general purposes of a Special Needs Trust (“SNT”): first, to protect a person’s eligibility for government benefits, and second, to house funds for a person’s future lifetime needs. Those with special needs are often eligible for two benefits: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. Both benefits require the recipient to have less than $2,000 in order to be eligible. Parents can set aside assets (often in the form of an inheritance) for a child without jeopardizing benefit eligibility by directing funds to an SNT.

Establishing a Special Needs Trust

SNT funds can pay for a very wide variety of services and items including special recreation, vacations, technology, concerts, clothing, furnishings, haircuts, therapies, and just about anything else a person might want or need that government benefits do not provide.

Another important reason to have an SNT is that funds can be managed and invested by a trusted person or professional, since the person benefiting from the SNT often doesn’t have the capacity to manage the funds.

At Clancy & Associates, our SNTs also include focused and detailed life plans unlike any other law firm’s. We help families build a “dream team” of family and friends to help with everything from specific tasks to decision making in their child’s future. We understand that SNTs must be holistic, well-planned, and built to replicate all that you do to support and protect your child.

Special Needs Trusts and Estate Plans

SNTs must be integrated with parents’ Estate Planning documents. When families have an Estate Plan but not an SNT, Estate Plans must be revised to reference or include an SNT. Some families choose to make other changes to their Estate Plans when this revision is made.

Our Firm helps families create an Estate Plan (or revise an existing plan) to work together with a new SNT. If a person does not have a SNT and inherits funds, his or her government benefits will be cancelled. Our Firm is often engaged to correct these situations with more complex tools. We always recommend advanced planning to avoid additional expense, frustration and loss of benefits.

Learn More

If you’d like to learn more about Special Needs Trusts, please check out our upcoming presentations, specifically on November 1st. This presentation is virtual and open to the public. You can view the flyer here.