Special Needs Trusts

Supplemental Needs Trusts can ensure that your loved ones with special needs will be taken care of financially. These federally-approved trust funds, generally referred to as Special Needs Trusts, allow families to set aside assets to care for family members with physical or mental disabilities, or chronic or acquired illnesses.  

A Special Needs Trusts is a living legal document meant not only to assure benefits eligibility, but also to bring enjoyment and new, positive experiences to the beneficiary. 

Augusta, GA, attorney Louis Saul is skilled at establishing Special Needs Trusts, whether through gifts or inheritance, that do not compromise government benefits. including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, vocational rehabilitation, subsidized housing, and other benefits based upon need.

Federal law specifically authorizes the use of Supplemental Needs Trusts for the benefit of individuals younger than 65 and disabled according to Social Security standards. The Social Security Operations Manual also authorizes the use of Supplemental Needs Trusts to hold non-countable assets. For purposes of a Special Needs Trust, an individual is considered impoverished if his or her personal assets are less than $2,000..

According to the law, a Supplemental Needs Trust can be used for "supplemental and extra care over and above what the government provides." A properly-drafted Supplemental Needs Trust will work on a sliding scale. For example, if the government were to provide 65 percent of the disabled beneficiary's needs the Trust will provide 35 percent. If there are no governmental benefits available, the Trust can provide 100 percent. Depending on the programs involved, the percentages funded by the government are widely ranging and the trust can be used to supplement governmental coverage.

A Special Needs Trusts can be established at any time before the beneficiary’s 65th birthday. It is very common to create a Supplemental Needs Trust early in a child’s life as a long term means for holding assets to benefit the disabled family member. This is particularly true of parents who wish to leave funds for a child’s benefit when they die. The Supplemental Needs Trust is the estate-planning tool of choice for those parents. As a part of Estate Planning, the costs of the creation of the Trust are tax deductible.

Additionally, the disabled or chronically ill individual may receive funds from third party sources, such as a personal injury settlement or a bequest from relatives or friends, Social Security back payments, insurance proceeds, or the like. These funds may also be placed into the trust.

It is important to choose a lawyer with a thorough knowledge of the law regarding Special Needs Trusts. A poorly written Special Needs Trusts can cause a loss of benefits, a loss of savings, or other financial and legal hardships for the Beneficiary or the Trustee, some quite severe, leading to civil litigation or criminal prosecution in some extraordinary circumstances.

Augusta, GA, estate planning attorney Louis Saul specializes in Special Needs issues and is familiar with the benefits systems, the proper creation of the Trust and, ultimately, the defense of the Trust in the event it should be challenged by a court, the Social Security Administration, Medicaid or any other agency.


Do You Have a Case?