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Using a trust to provide for a disabled loved one

According to recent statistics, an estimated 54 million Americans are living with a mental or physical disability that necessitates special care. In many cases, a family member ends up acting as a primary caregiver. Individuals with special needs often require medical attention and therapy as well as special equipment, all which can be costly. Add to this the fact that many individuals with special needs are unable to work and it's no wonder that finances are often an issue and concern.

In most cases, individuals living with a disability qualify to receive some sort of government assistance. These benefits are vital in helping ensure those with disabilities are able to receive much-needed medical care and treatments. However, in order to qualify for such benefits, individuals must meet strict income requirements.

In order to preserve disability eligibility, family members who want to provide for the current and long-term care of a loved one would be wise to enlist the assistance of an estate planning attorney. An attorney can help families establish what's known as a special needs trust. The assets held in this type of trust can be used to provide for the care of a disabled loved one while preserving eligibility for disability benefits.

Family members can fund the trust in a number of ways including via cash gifts during one's life as well as an inheritance upon an individual’s death. Additionally, an individual can name the trust as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy.

Family members often worry about a loved one with special needs, particularly when it comes to providing for their future care and needs. When a primary caregiver is no longer able to provide care, assets held in a special needs trust can be used to fund and provide for a loved one’s long-term care needs.

Source: Cincinnati.com, "Ryan: Trust can handle special care needs," J. Brendan Ryan, Nov. 22, 2013

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