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Special Needs Trusts

Special Needs Trusts—Important Vehicles for Preserving Government Benefits

It’s never too early—and almost never too late— to start planning for the care of a child with special needs. Even caregivers with the best of intentions oftentimes don’t realize that direct gifts and inheritances to loved ones with special needs may cause them to lose critical government assistance. Under the current law, if a person with special needs has over $2,000 in controllable assets, they will be ineligible for important governmental assistance programs.

Special needs trusts protect assets, while preserving eligibility for government benefits. These trusts can be used to fund services or equipment not covered by Medicaid such as special wheelchairs, educational expenses, recreational activities, entertainment and more. Diverse, flexible and confidential, trusts are a form of property ownership—whether real estate or investments—between the person creating the trust (the Grantor), the person or company managing it (the Trustee), and the person who is entitled to its benefits (the Beneficiary). The Grantor places property in the trust, essentially transferring ownership to the Trustee, who then manages the property for the benefit of the Beneficiary according to the provisions specified by the Grantor. In other words, a special needs trust provides for the care of a loved one with special needs, without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits.

Burns White attorneys have an intimate knowledge and unique understanding of special needs planning. For additional information, contact, Jerry Gaughan, Executive Director & CEO of the St. Anthony Charitable Foundation at 724-940-9020, ext. 103 or  via email.


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