Individuals with special needs often face “quality of life” challenges compared to those without special needs.  Often, individuals with special needs require added expenses to meet those needs.  The added financial burden often leads individuals with special needs to depend on public benefits to help them meet those costs.   Unfortunately, public benefits often fail to meet all of the needs of a disabled individual.  However, a Special Needs Trust (SNT) can give a disabled person supplemental financial support they need without jeopardizing their right to continue to receive public benefits.  

Why would someone need a special needs trust? 

A Special Needs Trust is a trust that is established for an individual with special needs who is or may become dependent on public benefits.  The Trust is specifically identified to meet certain supplemental needs and to enhance the quality of life for the beneficiary, the person with special needs.  Most importantly, the SNT is specially drafted to preserve any public benefits the person may be receiving or may become entitled to receive.  If a person with special needs receives funds outright and outside a properly created SNT, the individual may become ineligible for need-based public benefits. If that happens, reinstatement of the benefits can be a long and difficult process. 

How can trust funds be used? 

Trust funds are a reserve of money available for the benefit of the special needs individual. The funds can be used for goods or services that public benefits do not provide.  For example, SNT funds may be used for in-home care services, a computer, car service, college course work or training programs, travel expenses, and other items that enhance quality of life. but which would otherwise not be affordable to the beneficiary.   

A Special Needs Planning attorney is an essential advocate when preparing SNTs for individuals with special needs.  The attorney will be able to identify the type of SNT that would be beneficial in a particular situation and will know how to properly draft it to prevent the person with special needs from losing his or her public benefits.  Roadblocks can arise in the planning process, and it is imperative that you have an attorney familiar with the laws and regulations concerning public benefits and SNTs. 


If you have a loved one with special needs who would benefit from the establishment of an SNT, please contact us.  We are committed to and passionate about assisting families caring for those with special needs.