father and special needs daughter

A Guide to Special Needs Estate Planning in Kentucky

By Amy Oliver

People with special needs often rely on family members and others for assistance. For example, many people with special needs are unable to work, and they rely on financial support from their families to survive. Others need help performing the activities of daily life, such as going to the store, bathing, etc. Unfortunately, the caregivers of those with special needs may not always be around to help them. Therefore, it is imperative that the loved ones of special needs individuals take steps to ensure that they will be cared for in the future. One way to ensure the protection of special needs individuals is through the estate planning process. In this article, we discuss special needs estate planning in Kentucky. 

Special Needs Estate Planning Tools

There are several types of trusts that are useful when creating a special needs estate plan. The general goal of a trust is to ensure that the person covered by the trust receives the support and resources necessary to maintain his or her quality of life while preserving his or her eligibility for certain government benefits. The two most common types of trusts for people with special needs are: 

  • Special Needs Trust: A special needs trust is designed to provide for the ongoing support and care of a person with a disability without affecting his or her government benefits eligibility. This type of trust can be used to pay for a number of expenses, such as dental care, medical care, transportation, housing, education, and other items that make the beneficiary’s life more comfortable.
  • Pooled Trust: A pooled trust combines assets from multiple beneficiaries. Each beneficiary of the trust has a separate account in the trust, and the trustee manages the funds in the trust to provide for the needs of each beneficiary. For example, a pooled trust can pay for medical expenses and other services related to a beneficiary’s care. These types of trusts are often created by individuals with disabilities who seek to qualify for government benefits while preserving some of their personal assets

Funding a Trust for a Special Needs Individual 

Although a trust can be a great option for an individual with special needs, funding a trust isn’t always easy. Depending on the circumstances, an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account may be an option. An ABLE account is a type of tax-advantaged savings account that is designed to help people who developed a disability prior to age 26 and their families save and pay for certain expenses, including housing, transportation, education, and healthcare. Importantly, an ABLE account can be utilized without affecting a person’s eligibility for government benefits. As of 2023, $17,000 per year can be contributed to an individual’s ABLE account.  In Kentucky, these accounts are often referred to as STABLE accounts. 

Contact a Shelby County Estate Planning Attorney 

If you need assistance planning for the care of a loved one with special needs, Berkley Oliver PLLC is here to help. Our Shelby County estate planning lawyers have the experience and knowledge required to address your unique needs in a comprehensive estate plan. Regardless of your situation, our experienced lawyers will create an estate plan that works for you. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation with a Kentucky estate planning lawyer. 

About the Author
Amy E. Oliver, Esq. is an owner and attorney with Berkley Oliver PLLC. Amy has trial experience across all Kentucky Trial Courts and has handled cases ranging from misdemeanor possession, assault, domestic violence, DUI, felony theft, burglary, robbery, and murder. In March 2017, Amy left the Public Defender’s office to open Berkley Oliver PLLC with Josh. Amy has always been civically minded and that has driven her passion to assist individuals with difficult situations.  Since forming Berkley Oliver, Amy has built on this passion by working with individuals in Family Law cases through divorce, custody, and adoption proceedings.  Amy and Josh work hand-in-hand in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate, and Elder Law, with a particular focus in Guardianship work and Medicaid Planning.  If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact Amy here.