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Estate Planning for Special Needs

PROVIDING FOR THE SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD

 

One of the most important tools in creating an estate plan for a person with special needs is the creation of a Special Needs Trust. It may be created as an Inter Vivos Trust (one created during lifetime), or as part of a Will (also known as a Testamentary Trust). A Supplemental Needs Trust can be funded with an inheritance or life insurance, such as a second to die policy. If drafted correctly, the assets that fund the Trust, provide for the “extras” for the beneficiary (the disabled child) without affecting or disqualifying the child from important governmental benefits, such as Medicaid and SSI. The child retains the right to receive these entitlements. The Trust is meant to enhance the disabled child’s quality of life, supplementing the government entitlements. Once the Trust is created, it is managed by a person known as a Trustee. There are also organizations and institutions who provide Trustee services. It should also be noted that special rules apply, which require payback to the State at the conclusion of the disabled individual’s life, if the Trust is funded with money or assets of the beneficiary, such as a recovery from a lawsuit, a gift or direct inheritance from another family member.