Special Needs Trusts
Houston Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer
Special needs trusts are a unique type of trust made solely for the benefit of a beneficiary with physical and / or mental disabilities, including disabilities that affect their ability to manage their own affairs. Like other trusts, they generally function as a means to manage property – including real estate, finances, and other assets – for another’s benefit. However, special needs trusts can provide added benefits by addressing the specific needs, lifestyle, and futures of disabled beneficiaries, and allowing them to receive essential needs-based government benefits.
At Hendershot, Cowart & Hisey, P.C., our Houston estate planning attorneys have extensive experience providing the personalized and insight-driven representation individuals and families need when creating comprehensive estate plans that best fit their needs and goals. Our experience with a range of estate planning tools, including special needs trusts, allows us to help clients explore their available options and make informed decisions about their futures, and the futures of their loved ones.
If you would like more information about special needs trusts, estate planning, and our services, please call (713) 909-7323 or contact us online to request an initial consultation.
How Special Needs Trusts Work
When it comes to special needs trusts, also referred to as supplementation needs trusts, there are a few important considerations. These include:
- Government Benefits – Individuals with disabilities typically qualify for benefits under government assistance programs, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, vocational and support services, housing assistance, and more. Because many of these programs are needs-based, leaving assets through a will or lump sum payment can compromise their ability qualify. As such, special needs trusts provide a workable solution where assets held in the trust are “non-countable” for the purposes of SSI, Medicaid, and similar programs.
- Settlement Funds – In addition to maintaining government program eligibility in relation to inheritances, special needs funds can also be used to manage proceeds from a settlement made on behalf of the disabled beneficiary. Establishing a special needs trust for this purpose would allow the beneficiary to still receive needed government benefits. Assets in the trust are also not subject to a judgment in cases of lawsuits against the beneficiary themselves.
- Specific Needs – Special needs trusts can provide an opportunity to address the specific needs of an individual who has a mental or physical disability. This includes any unique concerns relating to their disability, as well as terms for using trust funds in a manner that ensure their future needs, which may change or increase, will be met.
- Establishing a special needs trust – The special needs trust you create will be based on the unique circumstances involved, including the source of assets and when it is established. This includes self-funded or first-party trusts in which assets already belonging to a beneficiary are placed in the trust, or third-party trusts which place assets into the trust from parents, relatives, or other parties. A trust created during the life of the beneficiary and the grantor is called an “inter-vivos” trust, and a trust created upon the death of a grantor is referred to as a “testamentary trust.” Placing assets into a special needs trust is also a matter dependent on the unique facts at hand.
Hendershot, Cowart & Hisey, P.C.: Proven Estate Planning Attorneys
Ensuring the affairs of your loved ones is an essential part of estate planning, and even more so when beneficiaries have disabilities that introduce unique concerns and considerations. At Hendershot, Cowart & Hisey, P.C., our Houston estate planning lawyers are readily available to explain how a special needs trust, a pooled trust (a type of special needs trust managed by a non-profit), or any related estate planning tool can help meet your specific needs and objectives. We can also provide assistance in a range of other estate planning matters – from powers of attorney to litigation.
To learn more about establishing a special needs trust in Texas and how our award-winning legal team at Hendershot, Cowart & Hisey, P.C. can help you, call (713) 909-7323 or contact us online today.