FEDweek

Trusts for Special Needs

Many individuals with disabilities get vital support from programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). With these programs, if someone has too much income or too many assets, they will lose eligibility. That could happen if someone dies and leaves the disabled person cash, securities, and other assets.

One solution is to leave such assets to trust. Then the disabled person can be named as the beneficiary of the trust. However, an ordinary trust might still jeopardize the disabled person’s eligibility for government programs.

Therefore, the best strategy may be to create a “special needs trust.” A special needs trust will state that trust funds can’t be used to pay for basic needs, so these needs will remain the responsibility of Medicaid and SSI. The trustee can be given discretion to use trust funds in a way that will enhance the beneficiary’s quality of life, so money might be spent on vacations, home furnishings, recreation, etc.