A special needs trust is a vehicle that is made for the benefit of special needs children. It gives better support and care than government benefits such as SSI. It also helps you maintain the government benefits that your child may already be receiving.
Even if your family is well off now, and you are able to provide all that your special needs child needs now, there is no guarantee that this will be the case once you and your spouse are gone. Other types of trust are simply not good enough to handle your special needs child because with each disabled child you need to factor in the complicated government benefits.
The money and property you place in a Special Needs Trust are not subject to creditors. Under normal circumstances, the trustee is the person in charge of distributing your money to your children. If the trustee gets sued, then the trust money can actually be taken as a part of the damages in the lawsuit. However, with a special needs trust the money is never in danger from a lawsuit. This ensures that the money will be there when your child needs it.
A Special Needs Trust needs to be established before your disabled child becomes 65 years of age. While this may seem like a lifetime away, parents with special needs children are advised to create a special needs trust while their children are still young. That way in case the parents pass away there will be a vehicle in place to help support the young child.
But having a special needs trust is not enough. You should also have a general estate plan in place in case you both die while your child is young. Courts appoint guardians for young children whose parents pass away. However, parents may, via a properly drafted estate plan, elect guardians for their children. This ensures that their children will NOT be split up and that those people that they trust will raise their minor children. This can go hand in hand with the special needs trust, which ensures that the child gets the money that belongs to him or her.
How can I help?
If you have any more questions about special needs trusts, contact me for a consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 626-432-1699 and ask to speak with me. Check out my website at www.lblawoffices.com.
Joseph Lee is a partner at Lee & Baghoomian, a boutique law firm with offices in Pasadena and Westlake Village handling estate planning, corporate formation, and special needs advocacy.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not meant to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship will be formed by this blog post.