Individuals with disabilities or special needs and their families face some difficult legal and financial issues. Many people with special needs cannot work and need to be supported their entire lives. Special needs planning allows the family members of disabled and special need individuals to plan for this financial support without interfering with public benefits. An Elder Law attorney can help families develop a strategy to ensure that the assets of all members of the family are protected.
A Special Needs Trust, also known as a Supplemental Needs Trust, is created on behalf of someone who is mentally or physically disabled to provide financial support while preserving eligibility for benefits such as Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. Assets placed in a special needs trust are distributed on behalf of the disabled individual at the discretion of the trustee, which is usually a parent or other family member. The money cannot be used for basic needs that are covered by public benefits, but is intended to supplement those benefits and can be used for things such as vacation, restaurant meals, sporting goods, social outings, legal fees and medical costs not covered by the benefits already in place.