Is a Special Needs Trust the Right Choice to Provide for Your Loved One? (2024)

Does Your Loved One Have a Disability or Special Needs?

If someone you love has a disability or special needs, a special needs trust can provide financial security for that person after you’ve passed away. Setting up a special needs trust for a loved one in Central Florida requires the services and advice of an Orlando trust attorney.

What advantages are gained when you set up a special needs trust for a family member? How do these trusts work? If you leave an inheritance or give cash directly to a loved one with special needs, those funds could disqualify your loved one from eligibility for public benefits.

But if you prepare a special needs trust for a loved one with the advice and assistance of an Orlando estate planning lawyer, after your death – or if you become incapacitated – your loved one will have the care he or she needs while remaining eligible to obtain public benefits.

Is Your Special Needs Family Member Receiving Benefits?

Public benefits are frequently available to the disabled and to others who have special needs. Your special needs loved one may qualify to receive benefits through SSI (Supplemental Security Income), Medicaid, and/or SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).

Medicaid covers basic healthcare costs and offers basic health insurance coverage. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides resources for retail grocery purchases. SSI benefits are available to disabled and special needs persons with little or no income or resources.

However, if a special needs family member is now receiving SNAP, SSI, or Medicaid, a gift of cash could disqualify that person for benefits. Disabled persons and those with special needs may receive public benefits only if their financial resources and their incomes are strictly limited.

How Will a Special Needs Trust Help Your Loved One?

A special needs trust will provide for a disabled or special needs family member without jeopardizing that person’s eligibility for SNAP, Supplemental Security Income, or Medicaid. Additionally, that loved one will have no control of the funds you place in a special needs trust.

The trust is the legal owner of the funds that you transfer to it, and the fund will be managed by a trustee you have named. You can name yourself as the trustee for now, and you’ll also designate a successor trustee who will manage the trust and approve its expenditures after your death.

What Should You Know When You Prepare a Special Needs Trust?

If the trust you establish is for a senior family member with special needs, your Orlando trust attorney will set up a special needs trust that reduces your loved one’s expenses while maximizing savings and maintaining your loved one’s eligibility for SNAP, SSI, and Medicaid.

If you’re establishing a special needs trust for your minor child, you can designate a guardian for the child should you and your child’s other parent pass away unexpectedly. If that happens and you didn’t name a guardian, the court will name one at that time, but that choice should be yours.

Each special needs trust is unique and should be prepared to meet your loved one’s specific special needs. When you and your trust attorney set up a special needs trust:

  1. The text of the document must be plain and precise. State that the trust is for the “supplemental and extra care” of your loved one beyond what public benefits provide.
  2. Your loved one will not receive cash. The trustee will make direct payments for your loved one, for example, to medical providers, transportation providers, and others.
  3. Special needs trusts are irrevocable, so you can’t alter or cancel the trust without a court’s approval. Trust funds can’t be taken by creditors, subject to liens, or risked by lawsuits.
  4. The special needs beneficiary must be less than 65 years old when the trust goes into effect.

Should Your Special Needs Trust Be Pooled?

A special needs trust is a “pooled” trust when the trustee is a non-profit group instead of an individual. The group pools funds from different trusts for more profitable investing, but it maintains accounts individually and assigns an acting trustee to work with each beneficiary.

When your special needs trust is pooled, you will know that your loved one is cared for, that the funds are being handled properly, and that your family member will remain qualified for public benefits. Speak to your Orlando estate planning lawyer about pooling your special needs trust.

What Else Can a Florida Trust Lawyer Do for Your Family?

For many families in Florida, a special needs trust for a loved one is only one of the elements in a comprehensive estate plan that may include other types of trusts, a last will and testament, a healthcare proxy or living will, and a financial power of attorney. Your Florida trust attorney will ensure that:

  1. Your special needs trust is clear, precise, and easy to read.
  2. Nothing has been overlooked.
  3. You have thoughtfully and carefully considered your choices and options.

If you have a family member who counts on you, a comprehensive estate plan ensures that person will have financial security after your death or if you become incapacitated. But with so many lawyers practicing in the Orlando area, how can you locate an estate planning lawyer who will make your family’s needs a priority?

Let Attorney Erin Morse Prepare the Trust Document You Need

When Orlando estate planning attorney Erin Morse prepares a special needs trust or another estate planning document on your family’s behalf, she explains the process and ensures that the document meets your needs.

Along with trusts and estate planning, the Law Office of Erin Morse handles all matters of family law, including divorce, child support, child custody, alimony, paternity, and prenuptial agreements.

Attorney Erin Morse provides candid legal advice, and she will prepare a special needs trust and the other estate planning documents you need. Find out more about estate plans, special needs trusts, or any matter of family law by calling the Law Office of Erin Morse at 407-900-7451.

Is a Special Needs Trust the Right Choice to Provide for Your Loved One? (2024)
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