Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Special Needs and Supplemental Needs Trusts

I realized I skipped last month. I'll try not to do a cop-out by talking about two, very related, topics: Special Needs Trusts and Supplemental Needs Trusts.

Typically, state and federal governments will ignore trusts and include amounts in trusts as an asset of the beneficiary for purposes of determining eligibility for state benefits. Two exceptions are Special Needs Trusts and Supplemental Needs Trusts. Both trusts are vehicles to allow a person who is recieving disability benefits, additional income and assets to meet needs beyond what the government benefits cover. Essentially, these trusts allow disabled persons to have a lifestyle beyond what the government benefits provide, without jeopardizing their ability to receive those benefits.

Special Needs Trusts are funded by the individual’s own assets. Supplemental Needs Trusts are funded by a third party’s assets. There are strict rules on how these trusts are established, funded and what types of expenses can be paid for by the trust. If you fail to meet these rules, the trust will be disregarded and the trust assets could be counted against the beneficiary. The rules surrounding these trusts are very specific, ridgid and highly technical. If the trust provisions violates an applicable federal or state law, the trust is disregarded. If a Special Needs Trust or Supplemental Needs Trust might be right for your loved one, it is very important that you work with a licensed attorney.

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