When you want your loved one with special needs to enjoy the highest possible quality of life and have access to the resources he or she needs to reach his or her full potential, you can’t leave the future up to chance.

At Morris Law Group, our dedicated and compassionate legal team can guide you through the process of creating a Special Needs Trust that will let you provide a bright future for your loved one.

Benefits of a Special Needs Trust

The primary purpose of a Special Needs Trust is to provide financial support for someone who is not capable of providing for his or her own needs due to a physical or intellectual disability. When assets are placed in a trust, the beneficiary is no longer considered the legal owner.

Some of the many benefits of Special Needs Trusts include:

  • Preserving eligibility for government benefits, such as Medicaid and SSI;
  • Providing funds to pay for costs that enhance the beneficiary’s overall quality of life, such as expenses related to education, travel, and hobbies or special interests;
  • Keeping specific assets, such as real estate, within the family;
  • Protecting funds from being immediately depleted due to the high cost of health care; and
  • Giving family members much needed peace of mind by providing funds to care for their loved ones who are not able to care for themselves.

Types of Special Needs Trusts

There are two main types of Special Needs Trusts: Third-Party Trusts and First-Party Trusts.

Third-Party Special Needs Trusts, which are the most common, are funded with assets provided by a parent, grandparent, or another family member of the disabled beneficiary. The trust is an alternative to leaving a direct monetary inheritance. When the beneficiary of the trust passes away, the remaining funds can be distributed to alternative family members.

First-Party Special Needs Trusts, sometimes referred to as self-settled trusts, are funded with assets that belong to the person with special needs. The most common example of when a First-Party Special Needs Trust is recommended occurs when a person receives a large personal injury settlement from a car accident that caused a traumatic brain injury or other lifelong disability. However, if a person with special needs receives a direct inheritance, these funds can be placed in a First-Party Trust to prevent them from losing their public benefits. Once created, a First-Party Special Needs Trust must be irrevocable. When the beneficiary of a first-party Special Needs Trust passes away, the remaining funds must be used toward repaying the state for government benefits previously received. 

Choosing a Trustee

It is important to remember that a Special Needs Trust can’t provide money to the beneficiary directly. A trustee must manage the resources within the trust, keep detailed records, and file the necessary tax forms.

The law only requires that a trustee is over the age of 18 and legally competent. However, managing a trust is a significant responsibility. The trustee must be willing to handle all of the administrative tasks and have the knowledge necessary to understand how the assets in the trust affect eligibility for various government programs.

If no family member is willing and able to serve as a trustee, an outside party can be named instead. This might be a professional trustee, a bank or trust company, an investment advisor or manager, an accountant, a banker, or a lawyer. You can also choose to name a family member and an independent trustee as co-trustees for additional oversight.

Schedule a Consultation Today

At Morris Law Group, we want you and your family to be at ease knowing that your loved one with special needs will be taken care of no matter what the future holds. We pride ourselves on developing long-term, trust-based relationships with all of our clients and will treat your family with the same care and respect we’d give to our own loved ones.

To learn more about your special needs planning options, schedule your consultation now. We have four convenient offices in South Florida, including our headquarters in Boca Raton, as well as locations in Aventura, West Palm Beach, and Weston.