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Canton Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer > Blog > Elder Law > Understanding The Benefits Of A Special Needs Trust

Understanding The Benefits Of A Special Needs Trust


Are you the parent of a minor or adult child with special needs? Are you concerned about their medical and emotional needs as you age? Will they continue to need specialized care after your passing?  Are you concerned that your spouse, or even you, may need care and want to protect your savings and assets from being depleted by the cost of long term care.  Are you eligible for Medicaid benefits and services? You may want to consider drafting a special needs trust. Special needs trusts are specifically designed to serve families who require additional care for a spouse, a disabled adult or child. Drafting a special needs trust gives the caregiver or parent peace of mind knowing their loved one’s needs will continue to be met. This includes the management of assets, finding specialists, securing assisted living or home health assistance, and maintenance of the trust itself. Drafting a will is a good start to estate planning, but a special needs trust has enhanced benefits to protect your disabled family members. 

Forming a Special Needs Trust 

A special needs trust can be prepared under the guidance and advice of a licensed elder law attorney. A well-formed trust contains specific language and details regarding the distribution of assets, who is appointed as trustee or substitute trustee, and what specific care needs the beneficiary will require.   In order to maintain eligibility for public benefits, the special needs trust has to be carefully drafted.

The grantor (person creating the trust) designates a trustee to manage the trust.  The trustee may be an attorney, financial advisor, relative or trusted close friend. When you begin the drafting process, it is important to consult a potential trustee and explain to them the responsibilities and duties involved with management of a trust. Responsibilities include acting as a custodian for the beneficiary’s financial and investment accounts, managing account distributions, filing a yearly accounting and ensuring the beneficiary is receiving the care that they need. The trust will also contain language about how distributions are made to the beneficiary (or directly to the caregiver or care agency), in what amount and how often. If you have specific wishes regarding educational, religious or recreational opportunities you wish for your disabled spouse, adult or minor child, you can also make reference or specific provisions in the trust. 

Protecting Benefits Eligibility 

Special needs trusts can be utilized to ensure a beneficiary’s income does not exceed limits for them to be eligible for state medical assistance. This includes eligibility for Medicaid, and additional Connecticut programs designed for residents with special needs. For example, the Connecticut Department of Social Services offers waivers to persons diagnosed with Autism to qualify for home-based services. Other programs are administered under a Medicaid waiver from the federal government, allowing Connecticut DSS and local programs to provide assisted living services to residents with special needs. The Katie Beckett Waiver is available for children and young adults with physical disabilities who reside in Connecticut. The Waiver offers case management assigned to a home health nurse, assistance with accessing Medicaid-based services, and individual assessments. Most programs are costless for caregivers to enroll in, but sometimes income eligibility is a factor. This reinforces the importance of creating a special needs trust to shield assets and protect the special needs child or adult from being ineligible for community assistance and programs.

Call Attorney Brian S.  Karpe Today

You are the primary caregiver for a loved one with special needs. You know what it entails and what your loved one will require after your passing. They deserve the same quality and level of care that you can provide. Drafting a special needs trust will ensure your loved one’s needs are met, and that their rights are protected. Canton elder law attorney Brian S. Karpe has experience handling various trust matters, including special needs trusts. With offices conveniently located in Canton, he serves clients throughout Connecticut. Call today to schedule a consultation.



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