For Florida families of people with disabilities, special needs trusts can play an important role in ensuring that loved ones are cared for. Many people with disabilities must access government programs like Social Security benefits or Medicaid in order to obtain the basic support and health care they need to live. However, in order to maintain eligibility for these programs, people with disabilities must have very limited assets and income. Special needs trusts are a kind of instrument created explicitly so that families can provide additional support to their loved ones without cutting off their eligibility for these necessary programs.
Why create a special needs trust?
Special needs trusts may be used in various circumstances. The beneficiary of a special needs trust must be disabled; that is, they are unable to engage in “substantial gainful activity” due to their physical or mental disability. They may be used, for example, when a disabled person receives a settlement or judgment in a lawsuit. In some cases, this may be a settlement related to the cause of their disability. It can also be an important estate planning tool for parents who want to leave an inheritance to their child with a disability without hindering their government benefits.
Special needs trusts for the elderly
In some cases, special needs trusts can also be used for Medicaid planning. While federal special needs trusts were designed for people under 65, Florida statutes provide for certain qualifying special needs trusts. These trusts can be established by a spouse for their surviving spouse through a will and can protect Medicaid eligibility for a sick and disabled spouse without disinheriting them.
Special needs trusts can be an important tool for parents, spouses, and other loved ones who want to provide for people with disabilities. These trusts can be created alongside other documents as part of the estate planning process.