Parents who have an adult child with special needs must provide him or her with nutrition, clothing, and personal hygiene, transportation to work and appointments, reading notices and attending reviews, managing insurance forms, paying taxes, spending money and recreational and social interaction.
Kiplinger’s article, “How to Plan Ahead for a Disabled Child’s Inheritance,” notes that, without a controlled environment and attentive support system that parents carefully construct and protect, a special needs child’s world would fall apart.
Many of these individuals are entitled to means-tested benefits, like Medicaid or a Medicaid waiver program, Supplemental Social Security Income, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Housing Choice Voucher Program and other services essential to their support system.
The issue for many of these parents is to ensure that their children will sustain their secure and protected lifestyle, without losing eligibility for essential means-tested benefits or having someone take advantage of him when the parents are gone. With the help of a qualified elder law attorney, parents can direct the inheritance of a child with special needs to a Supplemental Needs Trust. It’s a federally-approved strategy that will shelter those funds from creditors, secure them against waste and malfeasance and exempt them from income and resource limitations, so the child can access the programs that will help ensure a productive and enjoyable life.
To qualify, a Supplemental Needs Trust must serve just one beneficiary for life. It must include specific terms and legal references, provide certain trust powers and limitations and weigh the loss of eligibility against the benefit of each non-supplemental distribution. The various federal and state programs usually cover housing, food, utilities, medical care and medicines. A Supplemental Needs Trust can pay for all non-covered medical, ophthalmological and dental care, private rehabilitation training, services or devices, supplementary education assistance, entertainment, hobbies, transportation, personal property and personal services.
The rules governing trust distributions are very strict. Structuring a successful Supplemental Needs Trust requires an attorney who is experienced in state and federal program laws, with a very solid understanding of the state office’s interpretation of the regulations and local program directives, as well as an informed relationship with the local program decision-makers. He or she should also stay on top of changes in the law, by attending continuing legal education courses.
Reference: Kiplinger (May 16, 2018) “How to Plan Ahead for a Disabled Child’s Inheritance”