Special Needs Trust Attorneys – Glen Ellyn, IL
You can expect experienced legal guidance from our Special Needs Trust Attorneys at The Good Law Group. Call our Glen Ellyn, IL office now: (630) 645-1722
If you or a loved one is disabled, you likely have concerns about financial self-sufficiency, especially if the disability interferes with the ability to work. Being disabled in America is costly – medical care, treatment, equipment, and it’s not all covered by health insurance, if at all. In fact, the National Disability Institute found that on average, households with at least one disabled adult need 28% more income just to maintain the same standard of living as households without a disabled adult.
Disabled individuals who cannot work often apply for needs-based public assistance programs, like SSI and Medicaid, to provide a source of income and health insurance to pay for their medical needs. However, these benefits aren’t enough for most individuals to be self-sufficient, especially if they were the sole or primary income earner for their family. In 2022, the maximum SSI benefit is $841. Medicaid coverage varies by state, but it doesn’t always include things like dental, meaning paying out of pocket or foregoing these services.
Furthermore, these programs are designed to help people with very low incomes, so they have strict income and resource limits. Income caps vary by state, but for SSI and Medicaid, you are ineligible if you have more than $2,000 in assets ($3,000 for married couples). This means that many disabled adults find themselves unable to make ends meet and live in poverty. They also cannot save money in an emergency fund to pay for uncovered or unexpected expenses and, because they cannot have more than $2,000, have no funds to do things other people take for granted, like go to the movies or out to dinner.
In these cases, a special needs trust can help provide assets to the disabled person while maintaining their eligibility for needs-based public assistance programs.
What is a special needs trust?
A special needs trust, or SNT, is a specific type of trust that provides financial support to disabled individuals while maintaining their eligibility for programs like SSI and Medicaid. Unlike traditional trusts, where the trustees (the person or persons who manage the trust) distribute principal and income directly to the trust beneficiary (the person who benefits from the trust), the trustees of a special needs trust make distributions on behalf of the trust beneficiary, rather than directly to them. These distributions are intended to supplement the benefits the disabled beneficiary is receiving, not supplant them.
For example, trust funds would not be used to pay for medical care covered by Medicaid or any other health insurance the beneficiary may have unless that medical expense isn’t covered. That could include things like bath chairs or dental care. Funds could also be used to pay for things that would enrich the disabled person’s life, such as a trip to visit family or a new television. These funds would be paid directly to the vendor, i.e., the doctor’s office or Best Buy, rather than distributed to the beneficiary to turn around and purchase. By prohibiting the money from being distributed directly to the beneficiary, there is no possibility that it could be considered a resource available to the beneficiary and thus retain eligibility for needs-based public assistance.
Benefits of Special Needs Trusts
There are numerous benefits to establishing not just a disability trust but trusts in general. Your special needs trust attorney will listen to your goals and concerns and help you select the trust best designed to meet them. Some of the benefits of a special needs trust include:
- Remain eligible for needs-based public assistance: This is the primary reason people visit a special needs planning attorney. A properly drafted and properly administered trust will ensure that the disabled beneficiary will maintain eligibility for public assistance programs like SSI and Medicaid yet still have their additional needs met through trust funds.
- Can be testamentary or stand-alone: A testamentary trust is created in a will and only becomes effective when the person who wrote the will (the testator) dies. A standalone trust is one created during the lifetime of the trustor (the person who created the trust). A standalone trust can be funded at the trustor’s death (with assets from his will or another trust) or immediately upon creation.
- Gives the trustor control over trust distributions: The trustor of a special needs trust can specify what types of things the trust funds can be used for, and what they cannot be used for. The trustor can also specify how any remaining trust assets should be distributed at the beneficiary’s death.
- Protect trust assets from Medicaid: Third-party special needs trusts (a trust created by someone other than the beneficiary) protect the trust’s assets from being used to repay Medicaid at the beneficiary’s death. First-party trusts (also known as self-settled trusts, which are created by the beneficiary) are generally not afforded that same protection. That means that when the beneficiary of a self-settled trust dies, Medicaid can request reimbursement for any payments it made during the beneficiary’s life, even if means there is nothing left to distribute to anybody else.
Why You Should Hire a Special Needs Trust Attorney
Creating a special needs trust is more complicated than traditional trust planning. If the trust authorizes distributions for expenses generally covered by needs-based public assistance or allows distributions to be made directly to the disabled beneficiary, it could cause them to lose their benefits. You can eliminate that concern by contacting the special needs planning attorneys at The Good Law Group. Our disability trust attorneys are experienced in creating special needs trusts that will maintain the beneficiary’s eligibility for public assistance and ensure they are properly provided for during their lifetime.
Whether you need to create a special needs trust for yourself or a loved one, the special needs planning attorneys at The Good Law Group can help. Our Glen Ellyn special needs trust lawyers will help you navigate your options and choose the trust vehicle that’s right for you. Call us at 603-645-1722 to schedule an appointment.