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Being the primary caretaker for a loved one with Supplemental Needs can be a daunting task. Add to that the worry that comes with wondering what will happen to your loved one should you no longer be around to provide for them, and the responsibility can be overwhelming. 

While you can certainly provide that they receive money and assets, such a bequest may prevent them from qualifying for essential benefits under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid programs. However, public monetary benefits provide only for the bare necessities such as food, housing and clothing. As you can imagine, these limited benefits will not provide those loved ones with the resources that would allow them to enjoy a richer quality of life. But if parents leave any assets to their child who is receiving public benefits, they run the risk of disqualifying the child from receiving them. Fortunately, the government has established rules allowing assets to be held in trust, called a “Supplemental Needs” or “ Special Needs” Trust for a recipient of SSI and Medicaid, as long as certain requirements are met.

About Supplemental Needs Trusts (SNTs)

A Supplemental Needs Trust, or SNT, is a popular estate planning option for persons with a differently abled loved one. In short, a trust is a fiduciary relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary. The trustee is a third party that ensures the needs of the beneficiary are paramount and administers the trust in a way that best benefits the beneficiary. An SNT has a dual purpose:

  • To provide for the well-being of the individual with Supplemental needs; and
  • Prevent disqualification from government sponsored programs. Without the SNT, the funds could be counted as income and prevent the individual from qualifying for government sponsored programs, such as subsidized housing.   

Types of Supplemental Needs Trusts

There are different types of SNTs, and which one you should use depends on your end goal. The most common SNTs are as follows:

First Party Supplemental Needs Trust

A First Party SNT is funded by the disabled person themselves. It can be funded in many different ways, however the most common ones include:

  • Assets received through an inheritance
  • Monies received through a personal injury lawsuit, usually pertaining to the accident that caused the disability

These trusts can be established by parents, grandparents, a legal guardian, or through the courts. Funds can only be used for the benefit of the beneficiary and once the beneficiary dies, the state is to be reimbursed with any remaining funds. Also, beneficiaries must be under the age of 65.

Third Party Supplemental Needs Trust

A Third Party Supplemental Needs Trust is established and funded by a third-party, generally a parent or grandparent that creates the trust as part of an overall estate plan. The trustee must retain the ability to distribute the funds to the beneficiary at their discretion rather than upon demand by the beneficiary. The third-party trustee retains control over the trust and is able to amend, delete, or otherwise alter the terms as they see fit. Monies left over after the beneficiary of the Third Party Supplemental Needs Trust passes away can, by the terms of the Will or agreement that created the trust, revert back to the estate and be distributed to any remaining beneficiaries. 

Examples of Important Supplemental Needs Trust Details

The Supplemental Needs Trust can be used for a variety of life-enhancing expenditures without compromising your loved ones’ eligibility such as:

  • Annual check-ups at an independent medical facility
  • Attendance of religious services
  • Supplemental education and tutoring
  • Out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses
  • Transportation (including purchase of a vehicle)
  • Maintenance of vehicles
  • Purchase materials for a hobby or recreation activity
  • Funds for trips or vacations
  • Funds for entertainment such as movies, shows or ballgames
  • Purchase of goods and services that add pleasure and quality to life: computers, videos, furniture, or electronics.
  • Athletic training or competitions
  • Special dietary needs
  • Personal care attendant or escort

Speak With A Supplemental  Needs Trusts Attorney Today

Contact Steven Silverman, P.A. today to speak with a skilled and knowledgeable Florida Supplemental Needs Trusts attorney regarding the best options for the future well-being of your loved one. You can contact us online or by calling (305) 666-6111 to schedule an initial consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.