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What should you know about special needs trusts?

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2023 | Estate Planning

Navigating life with a disability comes with unique challenges, including financial planning. For those with disabilities, a special needs trust offers a strategic way to manage assets without compromising access to essential government benefits. 

A special needs trust is designed to hold funds that won’t be counted as personal assets for the beneficiary. This is crucial because personal assets can often disqualify an individual from receiving public assistance. SNTs supplement, not replace, government aid. 

The strategic benefits of a special needs trust

One of the most significant benefits of an SNT is the financial security and peace of mind it offers. It’s reassuring to know that your loved one will have access to the resources necessary to pay for things like education, transportation and medical expenses that aren’t covered by public assistance. 

Addressing the drawbacks of special needs trusts

Despite their advantages, special needs trusts aren’t without their drawbacks. The complexities involved in establishing and managing an SNT can be daunting. They require precise legal documentation and a deep understanding of the beneficiary’s needs. 

The trust is managed by a trustee, whose job is to use the trust funds in a way that benefits the individual with a disability without affecting their eligibility for benefits like Medicaid or SSI. Selecting the right trustee is vital because their responsibilities include making prudent investment decisions and ensuring trust distributions don’t jeopardize the beneficiary’s eligibility for public benefits.

SNTs are flexible and can be set up in various ways, depending on the needs of the individual and your preferences. This is only one component of a comprehensive estate plan, so be sure you think about the others when you’re getting everything set up. Working with someone familiar with your situation and your wishes may make this easier.