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Special Needs Trusts

10/01/2014 06:34PM ● Published by Hood Magazine

By Mark R. Krogstad, Associate Attorney, Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith Law Firm


Parents of special needs children regularly face the challenges of planning for their child’s care. While every family must ask, “Who will care for the kids if something happens to us,” families with special needs children have even bigger concerns: “Will our estate plan inadvertently disqualify our child from government programs?”

A Special Needs Trust may provide an answer.

What is a Special Needs Trust? A special needs trust is an arrangement where a trustee holds assets on behalf of a beneficiary with disabilities without disqualifying the beneficiary from means-tested government programs, such as Medicaid, SSI, or local and private programs requiring Medicaid-eligibility. Trust assets are managed and administered by a trustee for the sole benefit of the person with disabilities. To qualify as a special needs trust, there are strict regulations regarding the distribution of trust assets. A special needs trust is not meant to replace the funds and services provided through government programs. It is meant to supplement those funds and services and provide for needs not fully funded by government programs.

Who should be the trustee? Although not required, it’s generally recommended that the trustee be a professional fiduciary because the administration of a special needs trust can be more complicated and labor-intensive than most other trusts. The trustee must understand the government programs, the regulations concerning the trust’s administration, how to properly invest funds, make distributions, and pay taxes.

Who contributes the assets? A self-settled special needs trust is created with assets belonging to a person with disabilities. A self-settled special needs trust must be created before the person attains 65 years of age, and any funds remaining at the beneficiary’s death are used to first reimburse Medicaid before passing to anyone else. A third-party special needs trust is established with the assets of a parent, relative, or friend and can be created during a donor’s lifetime or at death as a part of their testamentary documents. An important distinction with a third-party special needs trust is that there is no requirement that the trust assets be used to reimburse Medicaid.

Is a Special Needs Trust the right option? Parents should consider whether means-tested government benefits will be needed or whether their child may wish to participate in programs requiring Medicaid-eligibility. Parents, relatives and friends who wish to provide for a person with disabilities should speak with their advisors to see if a special needs trust is recommended and to carefully coordinate their estate plans to avoid inadvertently disqualifying the beneficiary from these government programs. 

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  • Inflatables and PlayDome

    02/01/2018
    11:00AM — 08:00PM

    The County Fair has family entertainment for kids of any age—from our inflatables and Play Dome j...


  • New Baby & Me

    02/01/2018
    01:30PM — 03:30PM

    This group for new moms and their babies meets weekly. Moms can join in open discussion on topics...


  • Creative Kids

    02/01/2018
    03:15PM — 04:00PM

    Elementary-aged children are invited to join us for books, activities, and a craft. For more info...


  • S.T.E.A.M. -N- Thursdays

    02/01/2018
    03:30PM — 04:15PM

    Discover science, technology, engineering, art and math through activities. This month's theme: S...


  • A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER

    02/01/2018
    07:30PM — 10:00PM

    Getting away with murder can be so much fun… and there’s no better proof than the knock-‘em-dead ...


  • Walking Program

    02/02/2018
    08:00AM — 10:00AM

    Location: Morningside Community Center, 2400 South Bahnson Avenue Walking is one of the best w...


  • 2018 Spring Classes

    02/02/2018
    08:00AM

    Register for spring classes at the Community Learning Center at your Washington Pavilion! We want...


  • Inflatables and PlayDome

    02/02/2018
    11:00AM — 08:00PM

    The County Fair has family entertainment for kids of any age—from our inflatables and Play Dome j...


  • First Free Friday

    02/02/2018
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    Join us for Free First Fridays, whether you are new to the area, new to the Pavilion, or even a r...


  • Little All Stars

    02/02/2018
    06:30PM — 07:20PM

    LITTLE ALL STARS (Walking to 6 years )


  • Teen Night at Skate City

    02/02/2018
    08:00PM — 11:00PM

    This session is directed toward, but not reserved for, middle to high school aged skaters.


  • MallWalk 2018

    02/03/2018
    08:00AM — 10:30AM

    Pre-register your team for MallWalk 24--Saturday, February 3rd at the Empire Mall! Here's how! ...


  • Walking Program

    02/03/2018
    08:00AM — 10:00AM

    Location: Morningside Community Center, 2400 South Bahnson Avenue Walking is one of the best w...


  • MallWalk

    02/03/2018
    08:00AM — 11:30AM

    Join us as we Walk and Roll for people supported at LifeScape. 100% of Mall Walk proceeds will he...


  • 2018 Spring Classes

    02/03/2018
    08:00AM

    Register for spring classes at the Community Learning Center at your Washington Pavilion! We want...


  • Ice Fishing 101

    02/03/2018
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    Winter is the perfect season to explore your frozen waterways while enjoying the cool calming atm...


  • Little All Stars

    02/03/2018
    09:00AM — 09:50AM

    LITTLE ALL STARS (Walking to 6 years )


  • Tai Chi

    02/03/2018
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    f you are looking for a way to reduce stress, consider tai chi (TIE-CHEE). Tai chi is a gracef...


  • Decorating Days

    02/03/2018
    10:00AM — 02:00PM

    Call us by Friday and you can come in and decorate cookies on Saturday! We do cookie decorati...


  • Saturday Morning Family Skate

    02/03/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Spend Saturday morning with the whole family at Skate City! Parents skate for FREE admission with...


  • Morning Skate

    02/03/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    This session is directed toward, but not reserved for, beginner skaters and their parents.


  • Pioneer Day

    02/03/2018
    10:30AM — 12:00PM

    Bring the family to experience our prairie heritage. Churn butter, make newspaper twists and butt...


  • Inflatables and PlayDome

    02/03/2018
    11:00AM — 08:00PM

    The County Fair has family entertainment for kids of any age—from our inflatables and Play Dome j...


  • Open Gym

    02/03/2018
    12:00PM — 01:00PM

    OPEN GYM (Ages 6-18) $80/10 punch card


  • Bookworms Reading Program

    02/03/2018
    01:00PM — 01:30PM

    Join local celebrities and Zoo Educators for a free story time and animal encounter. Bookworms Re...


  • Weekend Open Gym and Game Room

    02/03/2018
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Open gyms are a time for people to drop in to play basketball. If space allows, volleyball may al...


  • Weekend Open Gym and Game Room

    02/03/2018
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Open gyms are a time for people to drop in to play basketball. If space allows, volleyball may al...


  • Weekend Open Gym and Game Room

    02/03/2018
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Open gyms are a time for people to drop in to play basketball. If space allows, volleyball may al...


  • Weekend Open Gym and Game Room

    02/03/2018
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Open gyms are a time for people to drop in to play basketball. If space allows, volleyball may al...


  • Weekend Open Gym and Game Room

    02/03/2018
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Open gyms are a time for people to drop in to play basketball. If space allows, volleyball may al...


  • Saturday Cookie Decorating Days

    02/03/2018
    02:00PM — 04:30PM

    Call us by Friday 605-978-0991 and you can come in and decorate cookies on Saturday! We do cookie...


  • SUPER SATURDAY

    02/03/2018
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Join us for SUPER SATURDAY each Saturday from 6-8pm! 2 hours of RUNNING, JUMPING, PLAYING FUN! ...


  • Walking Program

    02/04/2018
    08:00AM — 10:00AM

    Location: Morningside Community Center, 2400 South Bahnson Avenue Walking is one of the best w...


  • 2018 Spring Classes

    02/04/2018
    08:00AM

    Register for spring classes at the Community Learning Center at your Washington Pavilion! We want...


  • Sensory Sensitive Sundays

    02/04/2018
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    Chuck E. Cheese's is proud to support families who have children with autism and special needs. W...


  • Sensory Sensitive Sundays

    02/04/2018
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    Join us from 9AM-11AM Chuck E. Cheese's now offers a sensory-friendly experience on the first Su...


  • Yoga

    02/04/2018
    09:30AM — 10:30AM

    Bring your yoga mat for a one-hour session in the warm, lush Butterfly House. It's a peaceful, se...


  • Inflatables and PlayDome

    02/04/2018
    11:00AM — 08:00PM

    The County Fair has family entertainment for kids of any age—from our inflatables and Play Dome j...


  • Weekend Open Gym and Game Room

    02/04/2018
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Open gyms are a time for people to drop in to play basketball. If space allows, volleyball may al...


  • Weekend Open Gym and Game Room

    02/04/2018
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Open gyms are a time for people to drop in to play basketball. If space allows, volleyball may al...


  • Weekend Open Gym and Game Room

    02/04/2018
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Open gyms are a time for people to drop in to play basketball. If space allows, volleyball may al...


  • Weekend Open Gym and Game Room

    02/04/2018
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Open gyms are a time for people to drop in to play basketball. If space allows, volleyball may al...


  • Weekend Open Gym and Game Room

    02/04/2018
    01:00PM — 05:00PM

    Open gyms are a time for people to drop in to play basketball. If space allows, volleyball may al...