Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles often come into our offices to make estate plans, and one of the questions they ask is how they can support the people in their lives who have special needs. Special needs can include anything from Autism or Down Syndrome to Paralysis or blindness, and everything in between. These special needs family members may be receiving public benefits, such as SSI or Medi-Cal. Leaving money directly to them in a Will or Trust would, in most cases, bounce them off of such public benefits. A much better approach is to leave them a bequest in a way that will allow your special person to enjoy BOTH the public benefits upon which they rely AND your bequest. The way to do this is by leaving your gift in a Special Needs Trust.
Special needs trusts are not yet well-known, but they are gaining attention among attorneys, financial advisors, and in the mainstream media. They are permitted by both federal and state law, and recognize the need for families to “partnership” with government to improve the quality of life for the disabled. For Questions and Answers, and more information, visit our site at “Special Needs Planning”.
A Special Needs Trust can be useful for children or for disabled adults. It is a far better alternative than cutting your special person entirely out of your Will or Trust, simply to avoid jeopardizing their SSI or Medi-Cal benefits.
A special needs trust can mean the difference between living an enriched life and barely getting by. If you have someone in your life with special needs, inquire about a special needs trust as a way to leave an inheritance. It could make a world of difference.