Special needs trust: an effective estate planning tool

by | Sep 15, 2021 | trusts

Your child has cerebral palsy and often needs around-the-clock care. As loving parents, you and your spouse have managed this task from day one. The care, the adventures and the memories continue. For all those years, this has been the norm, your world and your child’s world. However, you understand that these sequences cannot continue forever because your child likely will outlive you

Now what? You want to ensure some type of financial responsibility for your special needs child after your death. You understand that a realistic option is creating a special needs trust, which can provide the funding of so many things in your child’s life for years to come. From medical costs and therapy to education and training, all of this would be covered through a special needs trust without jeopardizing public benefits that your child is entitled to.

Fund it well, choose a reliable trustee

“Building” a special needs trust does not need to be overly-complex and challenging.   An effective tool in the estate planning process, a special needs trust, however, does need some special attention to launch. Here are some of the steps you should consider:

  • The special needs trust can easily be created upon the death of the surviving spouse as set forth in your revocable living trust.  A separate special needs trust created prior to the surviving spouse’s death is not necessary.
  • Only the best person should be chosen as the trustee. This will take some research and decision-making on your part. The trustee administers the trust, using the assets to pay for whatever your child needs whether it be a specially designed van, wheelchair or education costs. This person must be responsible and trustworthy, understands finances, and is unafraid to make important decisions.
  • Know that your child will continue to receive certain public benefits. Having a special needs trust does not disqualify your child from benefits such as food stamps, Social Security Income and Medi-cal. This represents another advantage of this trust. If your child inherited assets from you in a will, he or she would no longer qualify for such benefits.

The time to start planning for a special needs trust is right away, but it is never too late. Any uneasiness may disappear after you have created a special needs trust. You and your family can rest better knowing that your child will be well taken care of well into adulthood.