Making an estate plan can be stressful for anyone, but it can be especially difficult when you have a loved one with special needs and you are concerned about how you can best protect them. There are a few ways to do so and you may be wondering if you should set up a special needs trust or explore other options. A Rockland County trusts attorney from our firm can help you find the arrangement that works best for you and your family.
Should I Use a Support Trust or a Special Needs Trust?
There are two types of trusts that are often used when people want to make sure that a loved one with special needs is cared for after they are gone. The first type is a support trust and the second type is the special needs trust.
Many people choose the special needs trust because it has one key advantage over the support trust. It allows beneficiaries to apply for government benefits. Leaving your loved one money or resources in other ways can affect their eligibility for Medicaid, supplemental security income (SSI), and other government programs that they may rely on.
How Does a Special Needs Trust Work?
If your loved one uses government benefits and you have decided on a special needs trust as a result, this is what you have to know. This kind of trust can use your assets and distribute them to the beneficiary when needed. It is assumed that government benefits can help them pay for many of their essential needs, so the trust is there to ensure that they can live a full life and pay for other expenses.
So if your loved one has a hobby or activity they enjoy, they can pay for it. If they want to travel somewhere to see family, your trust can provide for them. They do not have to scrape by, only paying for their bare necessities.
Do I Need a Guardian or a Trustee?
In most cases, you are going to want to assign a trustee that can manage your loved one’s finances and the assets from the special needs trust. If you have a child under 18 with special needs, you will also want to assign a guardian. Sometimes this can be the same person, with one family member taking care of your loved one and the assets you have passed down to them.
You can appoint two different people though, and when it comes to the trust that might be advisable. Sometimes it is best to appoint someone neutral as a trustee, like an attorney. This can potentially reduce conflict.
You can also prepare a letter of intent. This can concern your loved one and their specific needs, outlining for the guardian and the trustee what kind of care and resources they might require.
Consult an Estate Planning Lawyer
Planning your estate can be a difficult task, so if you are ready to set up trusts and look for other ways to provide for loved ones when you are gone, contact the Lauterbach Law Firm. We are ready to assist you with every step of this process.