Special Needs Planning

Special Needs Planning

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Certain government programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") have caps on the recipient's income and assets. A special needs trust or other forms of special needs planning can set money aside for a disabled family member without sacrificing eligibility for those government benefits.

The law firm of John T. Mroczko, P.C. offers knowledgeable and experienced counsel in the creation of special needs trusts for clients in the Metro Atlanta area and throughout Georgia.

About Special Needs Trusts

The main purpose of a special needs trust is to preserve or obtain eligibility of certain need-based governmental benefits. It is common to use a special needs trust to preserve a disabled beneficiary's family inheritance or the proceeds of a personal injury lawsuit settlement. If properly structured, a special needs trust holds assets which will not be counted as available resources for the purposes of qualifying for certain need-based government benefits. This is critical to qualifying for SSI and free medical coverage under Medicaid, which programs have a threshold of personal assets and income limits set by law.

The special needs trust may be able to be used to pay for the following:

Types of Special Needs Trusts

Support Special Needs Trusts

A support special needs trust is a special needs trust created to provide support for a beneficiary, that is, to provide for the beneficiary's basic necessities of life such as food, clothing and shelter. A support special needs trust is deemed to be an available resource to the beneficiary for purposes of his eligibility for needs-based public benefits, and often has the effect of disrupting or terminating such benefits. This type of special needs trust is not used to obtain or maintain eligibility for need-based public benefits.

Supplemental Special Needs Trusts

A supplemental special needs trust is a trust which preserves assets to meet quality of life needs beyond those funded by benefits programs. In essence, a supplemental special needs trust affords an opportunity to coordinate private resources with any public benefit programs for which the disabled person may be eligible. The main purpose of a supplemental special needs trust is to supplement public benefit programs, not replace them.

Third-Party Special Needs Trusts

A third-party supplemental special needs trust is funded with assets which do not belong to the beneficiary or the beneficiary's spouse. A third-party supplemental special needs trust is often created under the Will of the testator, and is referred to as a testamentary trust. A third-party supplemental special needs trust can also be created during the settlor's lifetime, and is referred to as an inter vivos, or living trust. Inter vivos trusts are practical estate planning tools where many family members wish to contribute to the care of a disabled individual. If a third-party supplemental special needs trust is funded with assets which do not belong to the beneficiary and which do not belong to the beneficiary's spouse, then such a trust is not subject to the provisions of OBRA 93.

First-Party Special Needs Trusts

A first party special needs trust also referred to as a self-settled supplemental special needs trust is funded with assets which are owned by the beneficiary or the beneficiary's spouse. Under OBRA 93, a self-settled supplemental special needs trust will not be counted as an available resource to the disabled beneficiary for purposes of determining his or her eligibility for Medicaid or SSI.

Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of special needs trusts to protect the interests of disabled individuals and routinely assist personal injury attorney's establish special needs trusts to be funded by a personal injury lawsuit settlement.

Contact our law firm today at 770-386-8564 to schedule your free initial consultation.