Hickman Lowder

We meet the lifetime legal needs of children and adults with disabilities, the elderly, and their families.

Special Needs Estate Planning

Maybe you just discovered your child has disabilities, or maybe you’ve known for years. Whether your child is five, 25, or 50 years old, he or she is still your child. They are counting on you in ways other children don’t have to depend on their parents. Your future always includes his future. How do you plan for his security and your own peace of mind?

Planning For Your Child’s Future

There’s no doubt about it: Extra money can help people with disabilities have a better quality of life. The good news is, you don’t have to figure this out alone. Whether that money comes from a personal injury settlement or an inheritance, we can secure the government benefits your child deserves and protect private funds with proper estate planning.

These goals are usually achieved through the creation of a personalized trust, sometimes a special needs trust. We can help decide which type of trust makes the most sense for your situation.

There are many ways to preserve your financial support for your child, even after you’re gone, but planning now, while you’re healthy and clear-headed, is crucial.

What Is A Special Needs Trust?

A Special Needs Trust is a trust arrangement which allows an individual with disabilities to have funds available for his or her needs without the funds counting as a financial asset for benefit eligibility purposes. Many government programs that provide income or payment for medical services and assistance to individuals with disabling conditions have strict financial eligibility limits. Without careful planning, assets received by a child or adult who is enrolled in or may be eligible for these benefit programs (such as Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid) can jeopardize eligibility for those programs.

How Can Funds In A Special Needs Trust Be Used?

The standard of what the funds can be used for is very broad, but if your loved one benefits from a purchase or payment, then distribution from the trust is allowed. So, purchasing a home, car, furniture, medical supplies, appliances, or even money for a vacation are all examples of what is allowed. Medicaid and Social Security do regularly review these trusts to ensure that distributions are being made correctly.

There are more limitations for those that receive SSI because SSI has more rigid regulations when it comes to distribution for things like food and shelter expenses, which include rent or mortgage payments and utilities. If you do use trust funds for payment of shelter and food, SSI benefits can be reduced since other funds, those from the trust, are covering basic expenses that SSI normally would cover. It’s always recommended that the trustee never give cash directly to a trust beneficiary, as a cash distribution is considered income and may also reduce SSI benefits.

The rules regarding what you can or cannot use funds for can be broad and exhaustive, making them confusing. If you are concerned about the use of trust funds, speaking with a special needs attorney is the best way to ensure funds are being used appropriately.

Hickman Lowder‘s Community Web

The breadth of our counsel and community leadership on special education and developmental disabilities services, Social Security disabled adult child benefits, and Medicaid enable our team to draw on a variety of exceptional resources for your benefit. We know what works now, and what is likely to work in the future, to boost your child’s standard of living. We even hold our own “Trustee School”, one of the innovative ways we teach our clients how best to fulfill their responsibilities.

Our estate planning attorneys chose to devote our legal careers to helping you support your special needs child. We advocate for you both and help you plan for the day you won’t be here to do so yourself. Your child needs all the energy and hope you have to share. Don’t let worry about the future sap the strength you need now. You have a committed partner in this challenging process, and our estate planning lawyers know you deserve the very best possible. We’re in this together.

Get More Information

For more information on special needs planning, please contact these attorneys at our law firm:

Read our Special Needs Estate Planning FAQ page.

Contact us through our website or call our Northeast Ohio offices at 216-861-0360.