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What should I know about special needs trusts?

New Jersey residents who have a loved one whose care is a concern after they have died will often be unsure of what to do. These people should consider a special needs trust. With a special needs trust, a person who is disabled or unable to care for him or herself will be cared for and still be able to get government assistance through Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and other programs. With the trust, there will be a trustee to oversee it. It can be a family member or a third party who the court will appoint. The trustee is an important part of a special needs trust because it must be remembered that the contents of the trust are for the care of the disabled person and must be used accordingly.

With a special needs trust, the government benefits like SSI can continue. A mistake that is frequently made by people who are moving forward with estate planning is to write a will and leave assets to the disabled person. That will leave the disabled person with too many assets and property to get government benefits. A special needs trust will prevent this from happening. When there is a lawsuit, this too can be placed into the trust so that the disabled person will not be affected by the rise in assets and access to money.

A special needs trust will adhere to specific requirements laid out by the testator. This is independent of concerns about government benefits. The beneficiary will access the special needs trust as the trustee will purchase what the beneficiary needs. That can include care, furnishings for the home, dental care, schooling, a vehicle, therapy and even vacations and recreation.

When a family is caring for a loved one who is disabled or mentally ill, the future can be a worrisome factor when the person might be left alone. Having a special needs trust can avoid problematic issues and provide protection. A legal professional who is knowledgeable about trusts and trust planning can provide guidance and advice throughout the process to ensure the loved one is cared for in the future.

Source: findlaw.com, "Special Needs Trusts FAQ's" accessed on Nov. 7, 2017

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