If you have a loved one with special needs, estate planning can pose daunting questions — How do I make sure my loved one is taken care of after I’m gone? How do I leave financial assets to them without interfering with their eligibility for government-based assistance programs? How do I make sure they’re looked after by the right people? All of these dilemmas can be solved by a special needs trust. An estate planning lawyer, like the ones serving Arizona residents at Dyer, Bregman & Ferris, PLLC, can ensure your family member with special needs will be cared for financially, medically, and with proper oversight, all through a custom special needs trust.
Because those with special needs often rely on financial and medical assistance from government programs — such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid, (called the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) and the Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS) — you want to make sure they can continue to receive these services after you’re gone. You might think leaving behind a financial gift in a will would help supplement the funding received from these programs, but these additional funds would potentially disqualify the special needs individual for government aid. SSI, AHCCCS and ALTCS are needs-based, meaning they are given to those proven to have a low income and few assets. An inheritance would be counted as additional financial resources thereby risking government aid eligibility.
Special needs trusts, sometimes called supplemental needs trusts, are designed only for disabled individuals so they can receive supplemental funding while still maintaining their eligibility for needs based government programs such as SSI, AHCCCS and ALTCS. Assets placed in the trust are used for the benefit of the special needs beneficiary. And because funds are held in the trust, and not held by the individual, the Trust does not adversely impact needed governmental services or benefits;
These trusts are also highly customizable to better reflect each person’s needs. Funds can be allocated for specific uses, such as continuing education, medical supplies and equipment, or assistants and service animals. One of Dyer, Bregman & Ferris’s supplemental needs trust lawyers can guide you through the process, drafting a trust that is specific to your family’s situation, down to the last detail and without any loose ends. We focus on serving Arizona families with members who are disabled, focusing our energy and passion on each case to achieve the best results for our clients.
While the details of each trust can vary greatly, there are two overarching kinds of special needs trusts — first-party and third-party.
Choosing the best kind of supplemental needs trust is made easier with an experienced and compassionate special needs planning lawyer. Our attorneys will guide you through your options, draft and file the proper paperwork, and incorporate your trust into your existing estate plan. We’ll also help you decide whether an individual trustee or an entity like a bank or trust company is best for managing your trust. Above all, we’ll give you peace about your passing, knowing your special needs loved one will be cared for with airtight legal protection.