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What is a special needs trust?

If you live in Florida and have a disabled child or other family member for whom you care, you may wish to consider setting up a special needs trust so that (s)he continues to receive the needed care if and when you are no longer there to provide it. As FindLaw explains, a special needs trust is one you set up to benefit your loved one who does not have the mental or other abilities required to manage his or her own finances.

The special needs trust can cover and contain virtually anything you wish it to. For instance, it can contain funds received from the following sources:

  • Governmental benefits such as Medicaid and/or Supplemental Security Income
  • Money that your disabled loved one inherits
  • Money that (s)he receives in settlement of a lawsuit
  • Money that you and/or other family members donate to the trust

In addition, the trust also can mention any indirect governmental assistance your disabled loved one receives from the government such as subsidized housing, subsidized employment, vocational or other training or services, etc.

Advantages of a special needs trust

One of the main advantages of a special needs trust is that it can outlive you, which is extremely important if your disabled loved one is your child. The trust can remain in place throughout your child's lifetime and provide him or her not only with the necessities of life such as food, clothing, housing, medical and dental care, etc., but also with such things as a monthly allowance, vacations and recreational opportunities.

In addition, since all the trust assets are, in fact, in a trust overseen and managed by your appointed trustee, no money that comes into the trust will disqualify your disabled loved one from the governmental benefits (s)he currently receives or could receive in the future. Furthermore, should someone sue him or her for whatever reason and obtain a judgment against him or her, the trust assets are immune from collection attempts.

All in all, a special needs trust is your best way to provide the things your disabled loved one needs and deserves throughout his or her life. This is general information only and not intended to provide legal advice.

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