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Trusts can protect loved ones with special needs

Advice about how to provide for a loved one with special needs in New York must be considered carefully. Some advisers suggest disinheriting a child or sibling with special needs, for fear an inheritance may disqualify him or her for receiving state benefits. However, that might be unwise when the goal is to ensure the financial stability of the intended heir throughout his or her life. In many circumstances, special needs trusts are an appropriate choice.

Disinheriting that loved one and leaving the inheritance to a sibling or other person to use for taking care of the special needs person might sound wise. However, if that beneficiary dies or becomes incapacitated, that inheritance will be lost for the one who needs special care. There are other ways to preserve the disabled person's public benefits that are typically provided to cover basic needs such as shelter, food and medical care.

As part of the estate planning of parents with a disabled child, a special needs trust can promote the happiness, comfort and care of a beneficiary with special needs. The trust can be funded to take care of education, medical care and equipment such as a vehicle that is handicapped-accessible and more, without jeopardizing eligibility for state benefits. Parents can also ensure that the trust will continue to provide coverage of everyday life-enhancing expenses as provided by the parents while they are alive.

New York families with special needs children shouldn't procrastinate regarding these important decisions. An experienced estate planning attorney can assist with choosing a suitable trustee, establishing the trust and seeing that it is funded properly. Furthermore, a lawyer can explain how grandparents or others can contribute to the funds of existing special needs trusts.

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