Special needs trusts don’t have to be complicated

Florida residents might desire to financially assist an individual with special needs. When family members have some type of disability or chronic health issue, the desire to assist financially is offset by the recognition that a disabled individual likely receives what broadly can be called “government assistance.” Providing funds to a disabled person needs to be undertaken in such a way that other forms of assistance are not affected adversely. The establishment of a special needs trust can prove to be a viable plan in such a situation.

Definition of a special needs trust

The first step in special needs planning is coming to a basic understanding of what is meant by a special needs trust. A special needs trust is a legal instrument that permits a physically disabled, mentally disabled or chronically ill individual the ability to receive funds without negatively impacting their eligibility for disability benefits. These include benefits provided through Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid or Medicare. If such a trust is correctly established, assets in the special needs trust do not “count” for the purposes of public assistance eligibility.

How special needs trust funds can be spent

There are some limitations in the way in which special needs trust funds are able to be spent. Money from such a trust cannot be used for housing or food needs. With that said, there are other obligations that funds from this type of trust can be used for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Caretaker payments
  • Transportation expenses
  • Other expenses as permitted by applicable law

An experienced disability attorney may assist family members in identifying what expenses can be covered via a special needs trust. Moreover, a disability lawyer may help create a suitable special needs trust to comply with state law.

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