Special Needs Trust
You must plan carefully if you want to leave an inheritance to someone with a disability. If you were to leave money or property for a disabled person it will likely disqualify him/her from receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid benefits. One way to avoid losing eligibility for SSI or Medicaid is to create what is commonly called a Special Needs Trust. Instead of leaving property directly to your loved one, you leave it to the Special Needs Trust for his or her benefit.
You must designate someone to serve as trustee of the Trust. The trustee will be responsible for spending money on your loved one’s behalf. Because the disabled person has no control over the money, the existence of the Trust will not disqualify him or her from receiving SSI and Medicaid. The Trust will continue until the beneficiary’s death, or until the Trust funds have all been spent.
If there is anyone in your family with special needs, it is critical for you to incorporate Special Needs Trust planning into your estate plan. In this way, you can provide for a disabled loved one’s needs and comfort without interfering with SSI and Medicaid. As estate planning and elder law attorneys, we have the knowledge and experience to properly plan for disabled persons and not only avoid the loss of benefits, but actually to maximize them.