Planning For A Special Needs Child Or Adult

Texas parents who are planning for the future often worry about how to financially protect their physically or mentally disabled or mentally ill child or family member. Special needs planning and a special needs trust (also called a supplemental needs trust) allow for your disabled family member to receive income without reducing the money or assistance that individual receives from the state or federal government.

Special needs trusts are created for children as well as adults who have a disability or an illness such as Alzheimer's disease and who receive some form of government assistance or benefits.

The money from the trust covers the financial and lifestyle needs that are not met by the public assistance payments as long as this trust money is not used to pay for food or shelter expenditures.

The attorneys at Kiefaber & Oliva LLP in Houston assist families with special needs planning. We will review all of your options and develop a strategy that best suits your needs.

Three Facts About Special Needs Trusts

  1. They are irrevocable
  2. They are protected from predators, creditors and lawsuits
  3. Choice of the trustee is a crucial factor

Working with an experienced wills and trust lawyer to set up a special needs trust and to designate a trustee can mitigate problems and costs later on. Family members can be appointed trustees and oftentimes this is the best choice. However, there may be situations where a family member is not an option. In this case, a third party may chosen or be appointed by the court.

Assets To Your Special Needs Child: Not In A Will

Leaving assets to a disabled beneficiary in a will is almost always a poor choice. Large sums of money or high-value assets can disqualify your child from their government assistance program. Special needs trusts are created specifically for your special needs child. They are tailored to your child's specific needs. And because these trusts are controlled and managed by a third party, not the beneficiary (your special needs child), the government does not take these funds into consideration when they consider eligibility for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

Providing Well For Your Child

A special needs trust is for your child to be able to afford "supplemental and extra care" beyond what the government provides. This can be equipment, services or experiences. The special needs trust must be worded correctly and include required language while intentionally avoiding mention of certain other clauses (such as "basic needs").

Services that special needs trust funds can be used to cover include but are not limited to:

  • Personal care attendants and physical therapists
  • Recreational experiences and travel
  • Furnishings (special beds, appliances, exercise equipment)
  • Medical and dental expenses
  • Education

It is difficult to think about not being there for your special needs family member. But a special needs trust is one way to effectively prepare your family member for the future. An effective trust can bypass probate and keep funds continuously available to the recipient for his or her care. A special needs trust is one of the best ways to ensure that your family member will still be taken care of even after you are gone.

Call our Houston office at 713-391-8704 to set up an appointment with our special needs trust attorney and find out how a special needs trust can protect a vulnerable family member. Or contact us online.