Special Needs Trust Attorney
One of the primary goals of estate planning is to ensure that your family is protected and taken care of in case something should happen to you. Clients who have family with physical or mental disabilities, be they disabled children or incapacitated adults, are often concerned that those family members will lose their governmental aid if they inherit too much value from the estate. Special needs trusts provide a way for people with a disability to receive an inheritance, save money, and receive financial support without losing access to needs-based government benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For more information, contact a Vancouver special needs trust attorney from our firm today.
Solving Your Oregon and Washington Special Needs Trust Issues
Dedicated and compassionate special needs trust attorney John Lutgens will work with you and your family to evaluate what trusts are available to protect the assets of you and your loved ones, explain the processes, procedures, and benefits of special needs trusts, and advise trustees on administering special needs trusts and field any problems that they encounter.
How does a special needs trust work?
Special needs trusts, also called supplemental needs trusts, are financial instruments that protect the savings of a person with disability without affecting eligibility for governmental assistance programs like Medicaid and SSI. Special needs trusts are meant for beneficiaries for whom governmental payments are the primary source of support; these trusts limit the distribution of the funds in the trust to uses that “supplement” the benefits provided by the governmental aid programs. SSI pays for food and shelter, while Medicaid covers basic medical care; the special needs trust is meant to cover everything else.
By limiting distribution, the trust prevents the beneficiary from receiving lump sums that disqualify them from governmental aid. Permissible distributions depend on the type of public benefit being received, but generally speaking distributions can be used to support the beneficiary’s education, counseling, and supplemental medical services. Beneficiaries must request funds through the trustee.
Special needs trusts can be set up in advance of an expected or feared disability, for example where there is only a chance that a disease may progress. They can also be temporary, covering only the period during which a person is actively disabled and giving the trustee the power to terminate the trust based on the best interests of the beneficiary.
An estate planning attorney can help you set up and maintain a special needs trust
The law surrounding special needs trusts is extremely complex and changes often. They can be difficult to establish and maintain, and the distribution of the remaining funds following the life of the trust can create additional complications. For example, self-settled trusts (those established by the beneficiary) can be created by anyone under 65 with disabilities, but at the end of the trust the remaining funds must be used to pay back Medicaid before passing on to heirs. Third-party settled trusts, those established by family or friends of the beneficiary, do not require a Medicaid “payback” and follow different rules. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can help you determine if a special needs trust is appropriate for you and your loved ones, ensuring that your special needs trust is administered properly.