As a person ages, they may face many physical and mental challenges, and may even lose significant portions of their physical and mental abilities. This can make the ongoing needs of daily living difficult, especially when a person needs government assistance to cover the costs of care.
Unfortunately for many people, their income and property disqualify them from receiving government assistance. This is common for elderly individuals who own a home, or have simply build a moderate estate but are not wealthy. Those stuck in this middle ground can lose everything they have to the costs of ongoing care because they own too much to qualify for assistance, but not so much that they can actually afford care without some help.
Special needs trusts often provide an excellent opportunity to protect the rights and property of a person as they age or encounter significant disability. With careful planning, special needs trusts help those in need qualify for assistance while keeping their estate secure.
Who controls assets in a special needs trust?
When a person establishes and funds a special needs trust, they place their property in the trust and legally give up their ownership of that property. In their place, a trustee that they select or approve manages their assets on their behalf, and ensures that they have the resources they need when they need them.
Once the individual who establishes the trust places their assets within it, they no longer own them, reducing their personal property and income below the threshold for government assistance.
Using funds within the trust
The funds within a special needs trust cannot be spent on anything, but, with careful planning, it is possible to live a comfortable life. The law allows these funds to pay for living essentials like housing, utilities, food and clothing, as well as other things like entertainment, electronics and gifts.
As long as a use falls within the guidelines of the law, using funds within a trust does not disqualify someone from receiving government assistance.
If you believe that a special needs trust may meet your needs or may fit the needs of someone you love, do not hesitate to begin building your own estate plan. The sooner that you take the time to create an estate plan that protects your rights and serves your needs, the sooner you can return your focus to the things that truly matter in your life, such as the ones you love.