A special needs trust is established to benefit an individual under the age of 65 who is considered disabled by governmental standards. A special needs trust allows those individuals to have income held in trust for their benefit without their assets being disqualified from certain government benefits, including supplemental security income (SSI), Medicaid, and other needs-based benefits.
When a person obtains a settlement as a result of his or her illness or disabilities, the settlement proceeds are often not enough to provide the necessary ongoing medical care related to the injury. As a result, protecting the disabled individual from disqualification from SSI, Medicaid, and other benefits is critical to his or her future well-being.
The family of a disabled person should not have to navigate the complex landscape of special needs trusts alone. A neutral settlement planner can not only connect with the plaintiff’s family with compassion and empathy, but his or her advice can give them the necessary confidence in their decision-making process.
There are numerous decisions to make. Those major decision points in developing a special needs trust for a loved one are as follows:
- Choose jurisdiction wisely. With the experience of a settlement planner, retain trust counsel to create the trust, or evaluate pooled special needs trusts in the state or states where Medicaid eligibility is needed or may be.
- Choose between a independent trustee or a professional trustee. Our experience is that although most banks would love the business and the fees on managing the assets, they are rarely suited for the intensity and complexity of these trusts. Trust companies that are independent of major financial institutions are typically best.
- Choose a money manager separate from the trustee. Good wealth managers who specialize in special needs trusts and the family’s circumstances is very rare.
- Choose a fee schedule. A typical fee schedule, all in is 1.0 to 1.25 percent on the total assets held in trust.
The best place to start learning about the process and decision points are by speaking with a loyal settlement planner. A planner will be the much needed voice of reason, and their collective experience is valuable.
Building a comprehensive plan requires experience of many levels. Our firm has consulted on the creation of hundreds of special needs trusts of all kind. We invite the families of disabled individuals to join our Facebook community, where members share stories and advice to support one another.
Contact the experienced settlement planners at Milestone Consulting to plan your loved one’s future. We believe a settlement planner dedicated to civil justice and the trial bar must live by their reputation, and our experts are ready to help.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).