Special Needs Estate Planning

Q.- What is a Special (also called Supplemental) Needs Trust (“SNT”)
and when do I need it?

A.- Various government benefits
like Medicaid, SSI cash payments, housing subsidies, mental health care, and
Department of Social Services (DSS) group home or other housing are provided
free, or at minimal cost, to disabled people, who have little or no money.
Whether paid directly to a disabled person, or into an ordinary trust, most
gifts and inheritances and accident, workers compensation, divorce, and other
litigation recoveries jeopardize government aid and even may have to repay
prior benefits. However, these amounts won’t disqualify a disabled person for
government aid, if they are paid into an SNT, for the disabled person, instead
of being paid directly, or an ordinary trust. Thus, an SNT should be part of
the estate plan of every parent and grandparent of anyone who may be too
disabled to work. A SNT should be created, even if your loved one doesn’t yet
receive benefits, because government aid may be needed later, especially, if
disabilities worsen with age. Also, many children can’t qualify for disability
aid until age eighteen.

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