Special Needs Trusts

What is a Special Needs Trust? A properly drafted Special Needs Trust will allow a disabled beneficiary to qualify for government benefits while also receiving benefits from the trust. A Special Needs Trust is a tool to shelter and preserve assets that would otherwise disqualify the trust beneficiary from government benefits that have a cap on assets.

What are the requirements for creating a Special Needs Trust? There are very stringent requirements that must be followed in drafting and administering Special Needs Trusts in order to have the intended effect of qualifying the beneficiary for need-based benefits. Depending on the source of the trust funds, some special needs trusts must be court-approved and age restrictions may apply. Special Needs Trusts are complex because they involve state and federal government benefit laws and regulations as well as trust laws.

Thompson & Howle attorneys have experience preparing all types of Special Needs Trusts, including:
  • Testamentary special needs trusts, which are trusts created by a person’s Will to receive property for the benefit of a disabled person (the beneficiary) after the person who creates the trust dies;
  • Third party inter vivos special needs trusts, which are trusts created during a person’s life-time to receive and manage property for the benefit of a disabled beneficiary;
  • First party grantor special needs trusts, which are trusts created by a court, parent, grandparent or guardian of a disabled person under the age of 65 to receive and manage the disabled person’s own assets for his or her benefit.
If you are interested in creating a Special Needs Trust for a family member or for yourself, Thompson & Howle can advise you about what type or types of Special Needs Trusts would best suit your needs, prepare the trust, and petition the court for approval of the Special Needs Trust, if needed.

For Special Needs Trusts already in existence, we advise and represent many trustees in performing their fiduciary duties and filing regular trust reports and accountings with the court. We also represent beneficiaries of Special Needs Trusts who have questions or concerns about how the trust is being administered or its effect on their eligibility for government benefits.