Special Needs Trust

Caring for a loved one with a permanent or serious disability - such as an autistic child or a spouse with Alzheimer's or dementia - is a noble and fulfilling undertaking. However, it can also pose many challenges. One of those challenges involves planning for the care and comfort of a disabled family member when you are no longer able to provide that care and comfort yourself, whether due to advanced age, poor health, or death. Parents, spouses, and other caregivers often have the following concerns:

  • Who will take care of and protect my disabled child when I am no longer able to do so?
  • What portion of my estate should I leave to my disabled child or spouse, and how will they be able to manage the property and assets that I leave to them?
  • Where will my disabled spouse or child live after I pass away and how will they be able to pay for their basic needs?
  • Will leaving substantial assets to my disabled spouse or child negatively affect their entitlement to government benefits such as Medicare or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

These and other concerns may keep you awake at night, but this need not be the case. There are many options available for addressing these issues effectively, thus giving your family peace of mind and freeing you up to focus on what you do best - providing compassionate care and spending quality time with your disabled family member.

We Can Help You Determine the Best Arrangement for Your Family

Perhaps the most common and effective method of arranging for the future care of a disabled family member is through a special needs trust, also sometimes called a supplemental needs trust. In general, a special needs trust is a form of property ownership whereby a trustee - often a trusted family member, a bank, or a nonprofit organization - holds and manages property (such as real estate, investments, or cash) for the benefit of the disabled person, who may be unable to manage the property for themselves. The trustee follows the directions set forth in the trust agreement with regard to how to spend the trust funds for the care and comfort of the disabled person.

Special needs trusts are often designed to allow the trustee to use trust funds to pay for things such as food, shelter, medical care and equipment, recreation, transportation, education, and insurance. Typically, the trust can be funded during your lifetime or with the assets of your estate when you pass away. One of the major benefits of transferring assets into a special needs trust - as opposed to transferring assets directly to the disabled person - is that the disabled person will typically not be disqualified from receiving vital public benefits such as Medicaid and SSI by virtue of having too many assets in his or her name to qualify for such benefits.

There are many options for structuring and funding special needs trusts, which is why it is crucial to consult with an attorney in order to determine the best arrangement for your family. The attorneys at Weisberg & Weisberg in Newport News and Norfolk, VA will work with you to determine the most appropriate means for ensuring that your loved ones with disabilities are taken care of well into the future.