If you are a parent of a young or adult child with disabilities, you do not have to disinherit your child to protect her Medicaid or other government benefits related to her disability. You can create what’s called a “Special Needs Trust” which would receive that child’s share of your estate at your death. The terms of the Trust will direct the Trustee to use the Trust funds in ways that would supplement the benefits provided by the governmental programs. Examples of additional items that could be paid for with Trust funds include salon services, dental work, alternate therapies, transportation expenses, cable television, internet, movies, concerts and even the expenses of purchasing and owning a pet.

A Special Needs Trust is also a critical planning tool for those with disabilities who receive money outright (e.g. gifts from family), a personal injury settlement or child support.

Some parents of adult children with disabilities settle for alternative planning options to establishing a Special Needs Trust. Some parents address their child’s financial security by leaving all of their estate to a child who is in good health. The assumption here is that the child in good health will take care of their special needs sibling. However, there are some serious risk factors and questions to keep in mind with this alternative: Does the caretaker child have any creditors that would claim this money? What if the caretaker child dies and all of the money goes to his or her spouse? What if that caretaker child is facing a divorce? Or what if the caretaker child who is in good health becomes sick or disabled themselves?

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Every family with special needs have their own special circumstances. Let us help your family address the special needs of your child and maintain the support they deserve.


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