Our most recent post in this blog discussed special needs trust planning for a loved one who is unable to make his or her own financial decisions. However, as we at the Law Offices of Frye & Vazquez, P.L., are aware, many Florida residents have physical disabilities yet are mentally competent. Therefore, you might be interested in learning about first-party special needs trusts.
As the National Law Review explains, until recently, people with disabilities could not set up their own special needs trusts. Only a parent, grandparent, legal guardian or the court could set up such a trust. This could be demeaning to those who owned property and were able to make their own decisions, yet needed to qualify for Medicaid and government benefits. Fortunately, as of December 2016, mentally sound people with special needs can set up their own trusts. This is called the first-party special needs trust. You or a loved one with a disability that doesn't affect your mental competency, such as being confined to a wheelchair, are no longer made to feel as if your own life and decisions are placed in the hands of others regarding your estate planning.
With a first-party special needs trust, you can fund the trust with your own property and use it to meet your monthly expenses and buy clothing and necessities without rendering you ineligible for Medicaid. As with other forms of estate planning, setting up a trust can be complex and necessitates competent legal counsel. Our page on special needs planning explains your options.