If you have ever cared for a disabled person, you are familiar with what it takes to properly care for them, including both medical and personal needs. If your loved-one receives assistance from a need-based government programs, such as Medicaid and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), then it is necessary to also protect their eligibility for those benefits programs, while still providing for their care. Special needs planning is designed to do just that.
The purpose of a Special Needs Trust is to provide future care for those who are disabled. Future planning is necessary in the unfortunate event that the caregiver is unable to continue providing care for any reason. The funds needed to continue proper care are placed in the trust and are protected from lawsuits and creditors. A Special Needs Trust also ensures that the funds are not counted as financial assets in terms of eligibility for government benefits. For example, the resource limit for an individual to be eligible for Medicaid is $2,000. Although assets such as your homestead are not counted as resources, it is easy for your savings to be depleted rather quickly before Medicaid starts paying for long-term care costs.
What is a trust, generally?
A trust is an estate planning tool that allows you to put money and other assets aside for a beneficiary, usually for a specified purpose. You will select a trustee to hold and manage the funds and that person will be responsible for making certain that the terms of the trust are met. Trusts are a vital estate planning tool, especially in planning for the needs of someone who is disabled.
How are “special needs” defined?
The term “special needs” is a comprehensive one that normally includes both medical and health care services, along with various other related services meant to increase the quality of life of the beneficiary. The options that are available can always be tailored to meet the needs of each beneficiary. A Special Needs Trust can also provide additional services, such as assistance with daily living activities and respite care for the primary caregiver, or living arrangements or renovations needed for the beneficiary’s home.
Types of Special Needs Trusts
There are basically two kinds of Special Needs Trusts: one for general support and one for supplement care. A General Support Special Needs Trust is considered the primary source of benefits for a disabled person. Whereas, a Supplemental Care Special Needs Trust is more of a secondary source of benefits, when government benefits have been exhausted. A Supplemental Care Special Needs Trust is the most common.
When deciding the type of Special Needs Trust you need, you should consider to whom the money or assets belong and whether those assets are likely to cover the full cost of support and care for the beneficiary. If you believe the assets will be sufficient, then a General Support Special Needs Trust may be the best option. However, if need-based government programs such as Medicaid and SSI will likely provide the majority of the funding for the beneficiary’s care, then a Supplemental Care Special Needs Trust is most likely appropriate.
Getting Legal Help with Special Needs Planning in Fayetteville, Arkansas
If you are ready to get started with special needs planning in Fayetteville, Arkansas, contact our office at (479) 443-0062 and talk to our special needs planning attorneys.