Caring for a person with special needs is a great responsibility that is accompanied by legal complexities. At the Law Offices of Beth McDaniel, special needs planning is a focus of our practice. Whether you are seeking to care for a minor or adult with special needs, our special needs planning attorneys can help you understand your rights and responsibilities, and guide you through the legal intricacies of caring for these special loved ones.

If your special needs child is approaching 18 years of age, you need to take proactive legal steps now to be able to continue providing him or her with the care he or she needs. Our lawyers can help you understand your rights and responsibilities, and help you obtain the legal orders you need to care for your child as he or she becomes an adult.

Special Needs Trusts

Simply gifting or leaving money or other assets may seem like a generous thing to do, but if the recipient of such a well-meaning gift or inheritance is receiving means-tested government benefits, such a heartfelt gesture could leave him or her ineligible for those crucial public benefits. Programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provide for only the bare essentials of life. If you want your loved one to enjoy a richer quality of life while maintaining eligibility to these programs, you may be able to do so by utilizing a Special Needs Trust.

Special Needs Trusts are government-recognized instruments designed to supplement public benefits, not replace them. A Special Needs Trust can provide your loved one with the resources he or she needs for transportation, entertainment, hobbies, trips and other items that go beyond food and shelter.

Types of Special Needs Trusts

There are two main types of special needs trusts: the first-party trust and the third-party trust. Both the first and third-party trusts name the person with special needs as the beneficiary.

  •  A “first-party” Special Needs Trust holds assets that belong to the person with special needs, such as an accident settlement. This type of Trust is not commonly utilized for Estate Planning purposes but can be put in place under certain extenuating circumstances.
  • A “third-party” Special Needs Trust holds funds belonging to other people who want to help the person with special needs. Third-party Trusts are the most frequently utilized Trusts for Estate Planning and inheritance purposes.

Of course, every person with special needs is different, which means that every Special Needs Trust is going to be different as well. The only way to determine which Special Needs Trust is right for your family is to meet with a qualified Estate Planning Attorney to discuss your personal situation.