Special Needs Planning

If you currently provide assistance to a child or loved one with special needs (such as mental or physical disabilities), you may have contemplated what may happen when you are no longer able to provide and care for them.  In this case special needs planning may be required.

While you can certainly ensure that they receive money and assets, receiving an inheritance may prevent them from qualifying for essential benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid programs. Public monetary benefits provide only for the bare necessities such as food, housing and clothing. As you can imagine, these limited benefits will not provide those loved ones with the resources that would allow them to enjoy a better quality of life. However, if parents leave any assets to their child who is receiving public benefits, they run the risk of disqualifying the child from receiving them. Fortunately, the government has established rules allowing special needs planning where assets can be held in trust, called a “Special Needs Trust” for a recipient of SSI and Medicaid, as long as certain requirements are met.

Schock Solaiman Ramdayal, PLLC can help you with special needs planning and setting up a Special Needs Trust so that government benefit eligibility is preserved while at the same time providing assets that will meet the supplemental needs of the person with a disability (those that go beyond food, shelter, and clothing and the medical and long term supports and services of Medicaid). Special Needs planning and a Special Needs Trust can fund those additional needs. In fact, the Special Needs Trust should be designed specifically to supplement, not replace public benefits. Loved ones should be aware that funds from the trust cannot be distributed directly to the disabled beneficiary. Instead, it must be disbursed to third parties who provide goods and services for use and enjoyment by the disabled beneficiary.

Special needs planning and the creation of a Special Needs Trust can be used for a variety of life-enhancing expenditures without compromising your loved ones’ eligibility for government benefits such as:

• Annual check-ups at an independent medical facility
• Attendance of religious services
• Supplemental education and tutoring
• Out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses
• Transportation (including purchase of a vehicle)
• Maintenance of vehicles
• Purchase materials for a hobby or recreation activity
• Funds for the individuals trips or vacations
• Funds for entertainment such as movies, shows or ballgames.
• Purchase of goods and services that add pleasure and quality to life: computers, videos, furniture, or electronics.
• Athletic training or competitions
• Special dietary needs
• Personal care attendant or escort

Special Needs Trusts are a critical component of your estate planning if you have disabled beneficiaries for whom you wish to provide for after your passing. Generally, Special Needs Trusts are either standalone trusts or they can be a sub-trust in your existing living trust.