As the parents of a child with special needs, you face a unique set of challenges when it comes to estate planning and managing the child’s care. In general, a trust is used to manage property for another individual’s benefit. Special needs trusts specifically address individuals who are mentally ill or otherwise disabled.
These beneficiaries may lack the mental capacity necessary to manage their own finances, but as their parent you may still be concerned about their future and well-being. A special needs trust is created with the specific lifestyle, needs, and future of that beneficiary in mind. In addition to providing critical assistance down the line managed by an outside person, a special needs trust can also help protect government benefits of the beneficiary receives.
There are several different kinds of individuals who can serve as a trustee on a special needs trust. Usually it will be a family member, but a third party may also be appointed by the court if no trustworthy family member is available. Choosing the right trustee is a critical decision, especially when the special needs trust is being used to help care for younger person.
To address the unique needs of an individual with special needs, the trustee may be empowered to purchase necessities for the beneficiary. Services and products such as vacations, dental and medical expenses, education, home furnishings, personal care attendants, physical therapy, recreation, and vehicles are all examples of items that a trustee might purchase for the beneficiary’s use.
It’s in your best interest to consult with a Lee County trusts and estates attorney as soon as possible regarding the structure of the special needs trust.