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1. Why should I consider having a Special Needs Trust?

A properly drafted Special Needs Trust or Supplemental Needs Trust allows you to put assets in trust for the benefit of the recipient that can enhance quality of life and preserve eligibility for important government benefits.

2. Can anyone establish a Special Needs Trust? When should it be established?

It depends on the type of Special Needs Trust. Special Needs Trusts can be established by parents, grandparents, other family members, or the Probate Court. If you have a loved one with special needs, it is important to be proactive and seek experienced legal counsel to establish a proper plan that meets the needs of your loved one.

3. Is there a minimum amount necessary to establish a Special Needs Trust?

No. However, the decision to establish a Special Needs Trust should only be made after consulting an attorney with knowledge of government benefits programs and experience in drafting and administering Special Needs Trusts.

4. How do I choose the right trustee?

Selecting a trustee is a critical decision and should not be taken lightly. Nor should agreeing to serve as a trustee. Family members are often considered first, but in many cases they lack the objectivity, necessary information, or time to fulfill the duties of a fiduciary. Professional trustees are available. The services they provide, as well as the costs for those services, should be thoroughly discussed in advance. Regardless of whether the person chosen to act as trustee is a professional or not, it is crucial that the trustee knows and understands all of the rules that govern public assistance programs because protecting eligibility for these programs is central to the trustee’s duty. Pooled Trusts can often be a very effective solution to the problem of selecting a trustee since Federal law requires the non-profit association to manage the Pooled Trust that it establishes.

5. Should a well-to-do family like mine have a Special Needs Trust?

Absolutely! Why? A properly drafted Special Needs Trust can protect your loved one from predators, creditors and lawsuits. Special Needs Planning can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved one will be cared for, even when you are gone. Proper planning can also help your loved one maintain government benefits while preserving resources to enhance his or her quality of life.

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