There are many of us who have friends, relatives or colleagues who have some type of incapacitating mental, physical or developmental disability. In older times, the families of disabled people used to keep their circumstances a secret; the disability of a family member was a forbidden subject and was not discussed very openly. To make matters worse, very few competent professional advisers existed to offer their help to plan for the special needs of disabled people.
So, the disheartened families of such people were left on their own and they had limited options to ensure proper care for their disabled relatives after their primary care provider grew too old or died. And since there was a certain stigma attached, the needs of the disabled were not advocated and there were limited resources available.
These days estate planning attorneys can provide solutions, and one of the them is called the “special needs trust.” A special needs trust is a trust which provides for a disabled person’s supplemental needs, other than basic health, shelter and sustenance expenses that the beneficiary may be entitled to receive under government programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.
A common feature of these trusts is that they are run either by court appointed trustees or family members. Generally great care is taken in choosing appropriate trustees for the management of trust assets and to deal with future alternate appointments when a special trust for a disabled child or young person is being established.
When you are interested in providing for a person who was special needs you have to wade through a lot of information. A delicate balance must be struck between making resources available while making sure that government benefits are not impacted. Without question, the best way to go about special needs planning is with the assistance of an estate planning attorney.