Government programs provide vital medical care, food, and housing benefits for individuals with serious disabilities. However, most believe that a loved one with special needs deserves to have more than just the bare essentials. This is where a special needs trust can help.

A special needs trust that is properly funded and structured allows your disabled loved one to enjoy the highest possible quality of life without risking eligibility for vital government benefits such as Medicaid. It ensures her needs will continue to be met after you have passed away.  Special needs trusts Alperin Law Firm

How a Special Needs Trust Works

Special needs trusts hold assets for a disabled beneficiary, so she is still able to qualify for need-based government benefits. Trusts can be used with an ABLE account or as an independent vehicle for holding financial assets.

Special needs trusts can’t provide money to a disabled beneficiary directly. A third party must manage the trust and use the funds for expenses that will enhance the beneficiary’s quality of life. This can include:

  • Traveling
  • Movies, concerts, sporting events, and other entertainment
  • Hobbies or special interests
  • Religious services
  • Supplemental tutoring or other educational services
  • Athletic training or competition expenses
  • Computer and internet access
  • Transportation
  • Out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • The services of a personal care attendant or escort

Special needs trusts can be either first-party or third-party trusts. A first-party trust is funded with the beneficiary’s own assets such as the proceeds from a personal injury settlement, divorce settlement, or inheritance. A third-party special needs trust is funded by assets that belong to someone else such as a parent, grandparent, spouse, or sibling. Third-party trusts are the most common type of special needs trust.

Creating a Special Needs Trust

There are many variables that must be considered when creating a special needs trust, including the beneficiary’s estimated life expectancy and estimated monthly expenses. You must also decide if a family member has the skills and experience necessary to act as a trustee or if the services of a professional trustee are required.

Do You Have A Family Member Or Loved One Who Requires Special Needs Legal Planning?

If you are responsible for a family member or loved one who requires special needs legal planning you should speak with an experienced special needs planning attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Virginia Beach office directly at 757.490.3500 to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Virginia including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk and Suffolk.


Scott Alperin
Experienced Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney Serving Virginia Beach Area Clients Since 1994.
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