Parents with a child who has special needs have additional estate planning concerns. When you leave an inheritance outright to a child with special needs, he or she owns the money, and those funds will be counted in determining financial eligibility for governmental assistance programs. As a result, the inheritance may mean a loss of benefits. In these situations, specialized estate planning tools should be considered, such as a Special Needs Trust which can prevent loss of invaluable governmental assistance programs.
A Special Needs Trust allows inherited money to benefit a person with special needs, without impacting his or her government assistance program benefits. The inherited money does not belong directly to the child, rather, the Special Needs Trust authorizes a Trustee to make distributions only for the child’s supplemental needs, which are generally defined as any need not being met by governmental assistance programs. By limiting the use ofSpecial Needs Trust funds for these supplemental needs, the Trust can ensure that your child will continue to receive assistance, and at the same time, allow inheritance to be used to enhance the quality of life and continuity of care for your child’s lifetime.