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Special needs trusts can ensure care for a disabled child

New York parents may have concerns about children with special needs who might outlive them. Naming a disabled child as a beneficiary in a will may not be the best option because it could jeopardize that person's eligibility for government support programs. Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income and other government programs like subsidized housing and job training typically have restrictions on the income of disabled individuals. However, parents can establish special needs trusts by which they can earmark assets to provide support before and after their deaths.

A special needs trust can be put in place to benefit a child with mental and physical disabilities. It can provide for various needs, and the donor can specify how the funds are to be used. However, the beneficiary's limitations might prevent him or her from managing those assets independently. In that case, the donor can appoint a trustee to watch over the spending of the assets, also making sure that the funds are used as intended by the donor.

A special needs trust is suitable even if the disabled person does not qualify for government programs that need to be secured. It can be effective in providing protection in other circumstances such as being sued for unpaid debts or in the event of a divorce. Assets in such a trust are accessible only by the beneficiary and the trustee. Parents who want to protect family health may specify that any remaining assets at the time of the special needs child's death must go to his or her siblings.

New York families who have questions about the process of establishing special needs trusts may find the direction of an estate planning attorney invaluable. A lawyer can explain the various options and ensure that government aid will not be compromised. An attorney can also provide support and guidance in the critical process of naming a suitable trustee to manage the assets appropriately.

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