Do you have a special needs individual in your immediate or extended family? If so, consider setting up a third party Supplemental Needs Trust for the benefit of this individual so that any money coming to him or her can be deposited into this trust. The trust money can then supplement government benefits without jeopardizing or impacting the same. Important as they are, special needs trusts are also complicated to administer and it is extremely important that the Trustee or Trustees you have appointed have the following characteristics:
- They are willing to commit to the long term
- They have a special sensitivity to the beneficiary-individual’s disabilities
- They are actively involved in monitoring the individual’s services being received
- They have the ability to be an advocate for medical and financial entitlements
- They have the ability to be a prudent investor and distributor of trust funds
Having one or more of the above traits can be invaluable for those serving as Trustees even if they are not professional or corporate trustees.
And finally, on a related note, make sure you establish these trusts as soon as possible especially before the individual turns 65 as his or her planning options for receipt of monies in his or her name become extremely limited after turning age 65. Give us a call if you would like to set up a special needs trust for one or more of your family members.
 Excerpt summarized from Representing the Elderly Client by Thomas D Begley, Jr. and Joanne Herina Jeffries.