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How a special needs trust can help when estate planning

A concern that many New York residents have when they are drafting documents in an estate plan is when they have a loved one who has a mental or physical disability. This can be a complex and worrisome issue that might lead to family disputes. However, there are certain strategies that can be taken to try and make sure there are no disagreements and the person who is in need of assistance will be cared for. This is where a special needs trust can be useful.

A large proportion of people who have disabilities will receive benefits from the government. These frequently have limits on who is eligible and who is not based on their financial circumstances. Leaving a large inheritance to a person who is disabled can negatively affect his or her benefits. With a special needs trust, this is avoided. The inheritance will not be left to the person, but it will be held in the trust instead. Therefore, they will not be viewed a belonging to that particular person and will not be calculated when the benefits from the government are determined.

The person will be the beneficiary but will not own the trust. The idea of the trust is to help the person with care or goods that go toward that end. For example, if the person needs to have medical treatment that is not covered by the government, the funds in the special needs trust can pay for it. Other benefits for the person can be paid for even if they are not deemed as necessary. Traveling, going to a special camp, purchasing furniture or other goods to ease their comfort can all be paid for with the special needs trust.

Those who have a loved one who is disabled in any way and want to make sure that they are taken care of should consider a special needs trust. When thinking about moving forward with this, it is wise to discuss the matter with an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about estate planning and all its various aspects. It is important that all documents included in an estate plan are carefully drafted and updated.

Source: USA Today, "Easing the burden: Estate planning, beneficiaries with special needs," Isabell Mueller, Nov. 24, 2016

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