What is a Special Needs Trust?

By Joshua Berkley

If you have a Special Needs child or loved one, a Special Needs Trust may allow you to leave them an inheritance without disqualifying them for public benefits (for example SSI or Medicaid).

Creating this type of Trust for someone else is called a Third Party Special Needs Trust. The advantage of this approach is it allows the individual with Special Needs to have their basic needs met by public benefits and use any inheritance held in a Special Needs Trust to improve their lives by covering expenses they may have for utility bills, education, entertainment, and many other expenses not covered by public benefits. When the Special Needs Beneficiary passes away, the Trust can instruct that the remaining funds or assets be distributed as the Grantor (person putting property in Trust) of the Trust desires.

If you are on public benefits yourself and are receiving or expecting to receive an inheritance or significant amount of money or assets, you can establish a First Party Special Needs Trust that will allow you to use those funds for many of the same expenses, however there are restrictions on where the remaining funds go at your death.

This excellent article from Forbes provides a great deal of additional information on this topic: https://www.forbes.com/advisor/life-insurance/special-needs-trusts/.

If you are interested in establishing a Special Needs Trust, please contact our office – we would be honored to help!

About the Author
Josh Berkley is an attorney and owner at Berkley Oliver PLLC who helps individuals implement plans to protect their assets and their loved ones. Josh focuses his practice in the areas of Estate Planning, Probate, and Elder Law.  From assisting young parents in making a plan to provide for their children, to helping senior clients qualify for Medicaid, Josh works with clients to create estate plans and life plans tailored to each person’s specific goals. He also helps clients with a wide variety of important legal documents such Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Surrogate Designations, and Living Wills. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Josh here.