Making sure that a disabled individual or a child with special needs is taken care of is very important. We want to make sure we address those potential issues from the start when we draft a estate planning for a client.
What we can do is make sure that we put a special needs trust in an individual’s estate planning. That can be incorporated in a will or in a revocable living trust to insure that at the time the individual dies, any assets which are for the benefit of that disabled person are put into what we call a special needs or a supplemental needs trust. The beauty of these trusts is it allows the funds which I inherited to be used to benefit the disabled individual, but it will not count as an available resource for governmental benefit eligibility, which means the disabled individual who may be collecting Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid may benefit from inheritance without losing the governmental benefits which are needed to make sure that he or she can live successfully.
A supplemental needs trust can actually be established during the lifetime of the person creating the trust or at death. What I mean by that is, you can have a supplemental needs trust into which people contribute assets during the lifetime of the person who creates that trust. If an individual wishes to gift a sum of money or transfer sum of money for the benefit of a disabled person, they can do so during their lifetime, not just at death. Another option is to establish a trust. Both of these are done through an attorney in a will, which would not come into effect until the individual creating those provisions passes away. At the time the individual dies, then the assets which belong to that individual and are going for the benefit of the disabled person would be added to that trust and would be used for the special needs individual’s lifetime for thereafter.