All parents who have a child with special needs want to make sure that those children are taken care of in every instance – most importantly, after the parents have passed away or can no longer provide personal care for the child. Creating a special needs trust is extremely crucial in keeping that continuity of care and making sure your loved one can receive all the benefits available to them from state and local agencies. Here are three important steps that special needs lawyers recommend for special needs trusts to ensure it will provide for your loved one with disabilities:


Step 1: Create the Trust

The most important goal of a special needs trust is to make assets and property available for the benefit of your special needs loved one without transferring ownership to them. Ownership of those assets will disqualify them from needs-based benefits and make it much harder to receive necessary care and enjoy a nice quality of life. The first step in making this happen is to contact a lawyer who has experience creating special needs trusts to make sure the trust is valid and covers all your loved one’s needs. The last thing you want to do is create a trust that you believe provides protection for your loved one only to have it invalidated after you pass away due to mistakes made during its creation. This may leave your loved one in a bad situation without any way to receive funds or necessary care.


Step 2: Fund the Trust

A special needs trust must be funded with assets or property once it is signed for it to come into effect. This can happen immediately, or the trust can be funded by a Last Will and Testament and/or your revocable trust at the time of your death. Special needs lawyers will review both options with you and help you choose which one works best for your situation. The assets and property held within the special needs trust are used to pay for items that are not typically covered by government benefits, which means that your loved one can enjoy a better quality of life through housing, education, and entertainment.


Step 3: Administer the Trust

The Trustee is the person who administers the special needs trust. The Trustee is tasked with making sure the terms of the trust are followed and your loved one receives everything they need from the trust. The Trustee typically will be a parent or whoever initially created the trust, however, a Successor Trustee should be named to take over in case the original Trustee is incapacitated or passes away. Administering a special needs trust can be difficult since there are so many rules that need to be followed, so it’s advised to consult with an experienced special needs attorney to determine how best to choose a Successor Trustee.


For more information about setting up a special needs trust for your loved one, or if you’d like to have your current special needs trust reviewed to make sure it provides the right amount of protection for your loved one, please contact us at 941-909-4644 or 763-420-5087 to set up a consultation.


If you would like to learn more about how you can make it as easy and inexpensive as possible for your family if anything were to happen to you, click here for our free workshop.


Chuck Roulet
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Nationally Recognized Estate Planning Attorney, Author, and Speaker
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