Special Needs Trusts Attorneys Serving Fort Worth & Tarrant County
If you are responsible for a loved one with special needs, it is crucial to consider how that person will be provided for when you are no longer able to act as caretaker. Special needs trusts planning is a practice area of estate planning dedicated to creating a system for providing medical care and asset management to people with special needs.
Located in Fort Worth, the Law Office of Carey Thompson is committed to helping families throughout the state of Texas provide for loved ones with special needs, such as a medical condition, a developmental impairment, or other disability.
In some cases, disabled individuals may not be able to manage their financial affairs, or need protection from creditors or those seeking to take advantage of them. Additionally, individuals with special needs often receive public benefits – entitlement benefits such as Social Security Disability Income or Medicare, and needs-based benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. However, receiving an inheritance could cause them to lose their eligibility for these vital public benefits.
What are Special Needs Trusts?
Special Needs Trusts (SNT) are designed to provide for the needs of those who lack financial sophistication. Additionally, an SNT can ensure beneficiaries will preserve their eligibility for needs-based benefits while providing for their supplemental needs to enhance their quality of life.
The most common form of trust is a Third-Party Trust that can be established either in a revocable living trust or as a stand-alone trust. In this arrangement, the assets are dispersed into the trust and managed by a trustee who is responsible for providing the needs of the beneficiary.
It is important to note that the trustee cannot give proceeds directly to the beneficiary since doing so could affect his or her disability benefits. Instead, the trustee can purchase a wide range of services for the beneficiary, provided that the purchases do not violate the terms of the trust. These services include personal care attendants, education, recreation, vehicles, out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses, physical rehabilitation, medications not covered by benefits, insurance, special dietary needs and even vacations.
Additionally, the trustee can purchase “non-countable assets” for the beneficiary. This property is not considered to be a resource for purposes of determining eligibility for the SSI and Medicaid programs. This includes:
- A home – A home that is a primary residence does not disqualify a loved one from receiving SSI; however, if the beneficiary only receives Medicaid, the value of the home may be limited.
- A motor vehicle – A special needs beneficiary is permitted to own one motor vehicle, regardless of value, without affecting his or her SSI eligibility.
- Home furnishings and personal effects – These items do not have a limiting definition, so anything kept on the beneficiary’s home is covered.
- Property essential for self-support – This includes property that is used for work, either as an employee or for running a business. There are limits on the value of these items based on a number of factors, however.
- Assets to attain an occupational goal – Under SSI’s Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS) program, SSI recipients are permitted to use specific assets to achieve an occupational goal, such as college, vocational training, or starting a business, without penalty.
- Burial and life insurance policies – Life insurance policies with cash surrender values less than $1,500 and burial insurance policies of any value are not counted as assets
Special Needs Planning Attorney
The Law Office of Carey Thompson has extensive experience establishing Specials Needs Trusts as part of a comprehensive estate plan. In addition, we also provide advice and guidance on the necessary funding mechanisms such as life insurance. Our practice also includes assisting those who are seeking disability benefits such as SSDI and SSI. We are keenly aware that planning for a loved one with special needs is an emotional challenge and will offer you compassion and knowledge and put your mind at ease. Call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.