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What is a special needs estate planning trust?

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2023 | Estate Planning

Many Florida residents provide care for loved ones with special needs. There may be a parent who has a child with Down Syndrome or a family with a loved one who became incapacitated following an accident or any number of other possible situations. Many parents and caregivers worry about their special needs child or other family member being able to have access to funds to provide for their care if the parent or guardian dies. The estate planning process includes a legal document known as a Special Needs Trust (SNT) which is beneficial in such cases.  

An SNT is a legal arrangement that enables someone with special needs to access funds that have been set aside for his or her care without losing government funding that is otherwise available. An SNT is often funded to provide financial care to those with physical or mental disabilities, or who are chronically ill. The person who creates an SNT is called the “grantor.”  

SNT funding is not counted as income for public assistance eligibility 

If a person with special needs applies for Medicaid or Social Security Disability benefits, eligibility is affected by his or her income. One of the benefits of an SNT is that the funds held in trust are not counted as income when public assistance eligibility is being assessed. Funds from an SNT can cover a variety of expenses.  

For example, they may be used to pay caregivers or cover costs associated with transportation or medical bills. The person with special needs does not manage or control an SNT. Instead, the grantor appoints a trustee to oversee the trust and manage the distribution of its funds.