A special needs trust is a legal document that helps people with disabilities (called “beneficiaries”) get the financial support they need, without losing eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. You may have heard it called a “special needs,” “SNT,” or just plain “trust.” They’re all the same thing.
A special needs trust can be a powerful tool to help you preserve your loved ones’ eligibility for government benefits. This type of trust protects your beneficiaries’ assets, while allowing them to get the government benefits they need.
But what if you’re not sure how to use a special needs trust? How do you actually set one up? And where do you even start? Worry not—this helpful guide will walk you through the process.
An SNT is a legal document allowing parents or other family members to set aside money to supplement government benefits by providing funds for expenses not covered by those benefits, such as housing, transportation, education, travel, entertainment and recreation. Creating an SNT does not affect government benefits for the beneficiary in any way. Your loved one can still receive Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments from the government if these benefits are needed.
A Nolo Press Special Needs Trust is a trust that you can create for your child with special needs. The purpose of a trust is to give your child the money and other assets that you want him to have without disqualifying him for government benefits.
If you have a child with special needs, you may be concerned about whether or not he will be able to take care of himself after you die. Perhaps you have already decided that he will need significant help from government programs like SSI and Medicaid, but you still want to leave him some property or money that can be used specifically for his benefit. If so, then creating a Nolo Press Special Needs Trust (NPSNT) may be a good option for you.
A NPSNT is basically just like any other trust. You, as the parent, are the grantor of the trust, which means that you provide the property and assets that will go into it. The successor trustee who manages the trust’s assets after your death can be anyone whom you choose—a friend or family member, or even a professional fiduciary (someone who manages trusts as a business). And of course, your child with special needs is the beneficiary of the trust.
The trust allows the individual to maintain their benefits while using the money they receive or the assets they own–without giving up control over how the funds are spent.
A special needs trust can help you protect your home and assets while allowing your loved one to receive needed benefits like SSI and Medicaid. It will not interfere with any other public assistance they may be receiving, but it will allow them access to their own money without worrying about it affecting their eligibility.
A special needs trust is an important part of planning for the future if you have a loved one who may require long-term care or other services in their lifetime. This type of trust is also known as a supplemental needs trust, which can be confusing because both describe similar situations and goals.