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How to set up a special needs trust without forfeiting benefits

If you have an adult child or another family member with a physical or mental disability that impacts their ability to care for themselves, you want to ensure that they are provided for once you're no longer around. Many people create special needs trusts for this purpose. Here's how it works.

The disabled person is the beneficiary of the trust, and it's managed by a trustee designated by the trust grantor. Special needs trusts may include money, property and other assets. They're often designed to continue for the length of the beneficiary's life or until the assets have been used up.

If a person became disabled because of a car accident or other event for which someone was successfully held liable, the settlement or award from that lawsuit can be managed in a special needs trust for that person's benefit.

A significant concern of many people as they consider setting up special needs trusts is that their loved one doesn't lose any government benefits to which he or she is entitled. This often includes Social Security benefits, Medicaid, housing subsidies and/or vocational rehabilitation. When assets are set aside to care for and support a disabled person, he or she can lose those benefits if the trust isn't properly structured.

North Carolina estate planning attorneys can help people who people who need to set up trusts, whether to care for loved ones with special needs or for a wide variety of other purposes. Trusts should not be a do-it-yourself task. You need experienced legal guidance to ensure that the trust will accomplish what you intend.

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