Our job as parents is to prepare our children for the future and to teach them to be able to stand on their own. But what if you have a special needs child who will never be independent? How do you ensure that a child’s needs will be met once the parents are no longer around?
Children and adults with significant disabilities, either physical or mental, are eligible for essential long-term care under Medicaid, along with cash assistance under Supplemental Social Income—but only if they own no more than $2,000 in countable assets or $3,000 for a married applicant.
Special needs trusts are designed to enable third-party individuals, to leave an inheritance to disabled heirs without those assets counting against them for the purpose of securing benefits. Because the assets are titled to the trust, they are not considered part of the estate.
What are the Advantages to a Special Needs Trust?
A Special Needs Trust preserves eligibility for government programs like SSI and Medicaid and will help pay for services and care over and above what the government provides.
Funds used to create a Special needs trust are tax-deductible.
A Special Needs Trust ensures that funds are used for the care of the person with a disability – This makes it more difficult to take advantage of someone that could be easily influenced in matters concerning money.
The money is used only for the care of the person with a disability.
What are the disadvantages to a Special Needs Trust?
Cost – There is a cost involved to set up and maintain a special needs trust. It is important to check with a Financial Planner with experience in special needs planning to see what the actual costs will be.
A Trustee is needed – The beneficiary has to request funds from the trustee and the trustee has discretion as to whether the request is appropriate based on the terms laid out in the trust. This can lead to a lack of independence and frustration if the Trustee is not readily available.
Medicaid payback – Some trusts have Medicaid payback provisions in the event of the beneficiary’s passing. Consult with your financial planner about payback provisions.
These are not easy discussions to have but deciding how to handle your child’s financial future will make it easier in the long run for your child and give you peace of mind. Consult with an attorney or a financial planner for the best plan for your family.