With the arrival of a baby, parents begin a lifelong propensity to worry about their child. If yours is a special needs child, that worry is multiplied by the knowledge that your child will need extra care throughout his or her life, long after you are gone. One step you can take now to help ease your child’s path without you is to establish a special needs trust.

FindLaw explains that a special-needs trust can help ensure your child gets the care he or she needs when you’re not there to provide it yourself. This trust establishes an inheritance for your child that is not considered income but delivers your assets just the same.

If you were to will your child a lump sum of money, it would be considered income, which may make it impossible for them to qualify for certain government benefits and programs, including Medicaid, housing subsidies, vocational therapy and more. Whether or not your child is currently able to take advantage of these benefits, nobody knows what the future holds, so why exclude potential benefits that they may qualify for later in life. 

To safeguard these program opportunities, you can establish a special-needs trust, in which your trustee is wholly responsible for allocating trust funds. With this transfer of authority, the beneficiary has no say in how funds are handled, despite the fact that the trust is meant to provide for their needs. Because of this, government officials in charge of the subsidized programs tend to look the other way when special-needs people with trusts are eligible to participate

Trusts can also include any additional assets that come to the child. And the other side of that coin is that the trust is safeguarded from any tort actions that may develop. Parents of special needs children who are interested in the benefits of this type of trust should contact an attorney with expertise in estate planning.

This article is for information only. It is not meant to serve as legal counsel.