Who needs a Special Needs Trust?
Special Needs Trusts provide disabled individuals and their families with a way to protect assets, thereby allowing funds to be used to enhance the disabled individual's quality of life to the highest extent possible. Who can or should have one of these estate planning documents? Any individual who receives or might receive income-based public benefits for disabled individuals should have this.
While it is clear that those who already receive such disability benefits should have a Special Needs Trusts, what about those who aren't receiving benefits yet? There are many different definitions of what it means to be "disabled", but for purposes of creating a Special Needs Trust, an individual is "disabled" if they suffer from a physical or mental impairment, which has lasted or expected to last for at least 12 months or will result in their death, and the impairment prevents them from earning a substantially gainful living.
In other words, can or could they support themselves? Or do they suffer from a physical or mental impairment that prevents them from doing so? Whether or not an individual is able to work and earn a living factors heavily into their eligibility for public benefits and, as a result, whether they should have a Special Needs estate document drafted.
The purpose of an SNT is to protect a disabled individual, ensuring that they do not lose public benefits, or that they qualify for benefits when the time comes. If you have questions about whether you or someone you know should have estate planning for a disabled individual, contact McMorrow Law at (724) 940-0100.