The primary purpose of creating a special needs trust in Massachusetts is to provide for a loved one’s needs without canceling their eligibility for Social Security or Medicaid benefits. By creating a special needs trust, parents of special needs children can secure their financial future. The award-winning estate planning lawyers at Surprenant & Beneski, PC will help you create a special needs trust structured for your needs and goals.
We will walk you through the process and ensure you have the provisions necessary to maintain their quality of life without losing critical public benefits. We provide our clients with comprehensive estate planning services, including special needs estate planning. Contact one of our three convenient locations in Southeastern Massachusetts today to schedule your initial consultation.
The Importance of Creating a Special Needs Trust (SNT)
Establishing a special needs trust for a disabled individual is crucial for providing them with a lifetime of security and safety. The funds in a special needs trust can ensure that your loved one has continued wellbeing and health. The funds in a special needs trust will give your loved ones an excellent quality of life, paying for educational opportunities, entertainment, and medical expenses not covered by Medicaid.
Using the Funds In Your Special Needs Trust
The funds in a special needs trust can be used on various expenses, not just medical services or goods. Your loved one can use special needs trust funds to pay for rent. However, doing so will likely reduce the amount of Social Security Income benefits your loved one receives. A well-drafted special needs trust allows the beneficiary to use trust funds for nearly anything that benefits him or her, including the following expenses:
- Monthly cell phone
- Vehicle maintenance
- Home maintenance
- Computers and other electronic equipment
- Cable and internet expenses
- Educational expenses
- Sporting goods
- Movies, social outings, and restaurant meals
Appointing a Trustee for Your Special Needs Trust
The individual with special needs is the trust beneficiary who will use the assets in the trust. When you create a special needs trust, you’ll need to appoint a trustee. The trustee manages the trust for the benefit of the individual with special needs. Carefully considering who to appoint as the trustee is important. The trustee can be a child’s parent, relative, or trusted friend. Or, you can appoint a professional, such as a bank, lawyer, or accountant, to act as the trustee.
With both types of trusts, it’s crucial that the beneficiary follows all of the document’s instructions and terms. Even if the terms are more restricted than required by public benefits laws, following the trust agreement is important. The trustee shouldn’t borrow assets from the trust or commingle their personal assets with the trust assets. We recommend appointing a trustee who is familiar with public benefits programs and comfortable with taking on the responsibility of acting as a trustee.
Protecting Benefits After Receiving an Inheritance
Receiving an inheritance is typically a helpful and exciting event. However, receiving an inheritance could make an individual receiving Medicaid benefits through MassHealth ineligible for those benefits. MassHealth has strict limits for resources and income. Should your loved one with special needs receive an inheritance, he or she could become ineligible for significant health insurance benefits through MassHealth. Even if your loved one has a minimal income and inherits a small inheritance under $30,000, he or she could lose public benefits.
Careful estate planning can help your family ensure that receiving an inheritance doesn’t have a negative impact. When your loved one inherits money, he or she may become ineligible for Medicaid for at least the month he or she received the inheritance. However, should your loved one properly spend down the inheritance the month he or she receives it, he or she could become eligible for Medicaid again the next month. If your loved one is in a nursing home, he or she can pay the nursing home for the current month at the Medicaid rate.
If there is any money left over, one of the elder law attorneys at Surprenant & Beneski, PC, can advise you on the best way to spend down the money so you qualify. One option includes transferring the money into a properly structured special needs trust. Another option would be to pre-pay the cost of an irrevocable funeral contract. What if the money in the inheritance is too much to spend in one month? One of our award-winning estate planning lawyers can discuss other legal techniques to protect a portion of the income without disturbing your loved one’s eligibility for benefits.
Contact a Southeastern Massachusetts Special Needs Trust Lawyer
Creating and administering a special needs trust can be a confusing and complicated process. If you would like to create a special needs trust, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, our special needs lawyers will carefully listen to your needs and goals. We will provide you with reliable legal advice, whether you’d like to create one or you’ve been appointed as a trustee. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.