In the past, families would disinherit disabled family members and leave their assets to someone who agreed to “take care” of them. If assets are left to a disabled beneficiary, it could disqualify them from the state or federal programs they are receiving. In 1993, Congress enacted new laws that entitled disabled individuals to derive the same estate planning benefits as non-disabled individuals without affecting their eligibility for state or federal benefits. The law created Supplemental Needs Trusts, which enable you to leave any amount of money to a loved one who has special needs without affecting their eligibility for the state or federal benefits they receive.
The law further provides that trust proceeds must be used to provide luxuries for the disabled individual he or she would not otherwise receive under the state and federal programs. Luxuries can include trips, computers, power wheel chairs, prosthetics, or other comforts not generally provided by the government.
Engaging in special needs planning through a Supplemental Needs Trust is a wise decision, and can be created by an individual with their own funds or be created by someone other than a disabled individual, typically a parent or relative.
There are different rights and restrictions to each of these trusts, but both ensure immediate qualification for federal and state benefits (i.e., Medicaid) and provide luxuries to the disabled beneficiary they, otherwise, most likely, would be unable to have.