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What is a Special Needs Trust, and Why Are They Important?

Posted on November 08, 2022 in Estate Planning and Probate

Bexar county special needs trust lawyerThe idea behind estate planning is to put your family in the best possible situation by planning for future events. What will happen to my family when I am no longer here? is a challenging but essential question to ask yourself as you seek to grant your family peace of mind by preparing for whatever may happen. 

The needs of families can differ, as can the needs of individual family members. For example, suppose you have a family member with a physical or mental disability who is dependent on you or other family members. Depending on their level of disability, you may be concerned about their inability to care for themselves independently. You may be interested in securing their physical and financial well-being after you pass away. In that case, it is wise to speak with an experienced attorney knowledgeable in special needs trusts, which can grant you the peace of mind that your loved one will be taken care of in the future. 

What is a Special Needs Trust?

People with disabilities are often eligible to receive various forms of governmental and public aid that help with their ongoing needs. The disabled person must have limited income and other financial resources to qualify for these benefits. A very common pitfall families can run into is if they decide to give a disabled family member a large amount of money or other assets as a form of financial protection for the disabled family member. While this may seem appropriate, gifting the disabled family member with assets may make them ineligible for public benefits like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income through Social Security. To avoid this, a family member can set up a special needs trust to avoid making them ineligible for public benefits.

 You may be familiar with trusts, which are legal agreements in which the assets a person owns are placed under the control of an assigned trustee, who is then provided with instructions on how the assets should be used. Under Texas law, a special needs trust must be established for the disabled person’s benefit by their parent, grandparent, legal guardian, a court, or the disabled person themselves. Like other trusts, assets transferred to a special needs trust must be owned by the trust itself. However, since the assets in a trust will not be counted toward the financial resources available to a disabled person, they will not be considered when determining whether a disabled person is eligible for public benefits. 

What is Often Included in a Special Needs Trust? 

Because public benefit programs are designed to offer and provide for certain needs, like food and home costs, assets in a special needs trust may be used for purposes like:

  • Common household items like furniture, appliances, televisions, or computers, as well as other electronic devices

  • Clothes

  • Medical care not included in government programs

  • Over-the-counter medication

  • Personal services like housekeeping, meal prep, and reimbursement for family members who provide medical care

  • A car used to transport the person and other transportation costs, like train fare or bus fare

  • Entertainment expenses like vacation or sporting event tickets

Contact a Bexar County Special Needs Trusts Lawyer

It is never too early to begin estate planning. By planning for the future, you can create peace of mind for yourself and your family. To create a special needs trust for a loved one, consult with the experienced San Antonio special needs trust attorney with Geoff Mayfield, Attorney at Law. Call 210-535-0870 today for a free consultation.


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