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What is a Special Needs Trust?

Americans are living longer than they used to–regardless of any disability they may have. Through careful planning, parents can significantly impact the lives of a child with a disability and their siblings, whom they often leave with the burden of caring for them on top of the responsibilities of their careers and families.

Even though the beneficiary may be an adult when the trust is created or funded, special needs trusts (also known as “supplemental needs trusts”) are a critical part of planning for a child with a disability. A special needs trust allows a beneficiary with a disability to collect inheritances, government benefits, or other forms of income while keeping their eligibility for programs like Medicaid and SSI. These trusts are designed not to impact the beneficiary’s use of public funds.

While public assistance funds provide basic support for the beneficiary, special needs trusts are designed to cover comforts and luxuries. Frequently, these trusts are set up to pay for education, leisure, counseling, and medical care far beyond the basic necessities covered by public assistance.

There are three primary types of special needs trusts:

  • First-party trust: The beneficiary funds this type of trust with their own money.
  • Third-party trust: A family member or third party funds this type of trust to benefit a beneficiary with a disability.
  • Pooled trust: A non-profit association establishes and administers this type of trust for beneficiaries.

If you have a loved one who requires additional assistance, a Special Needs Trust may be the right solution for you. To find out more and to schedule an appointment, please reach out using the form below and we would be happy to discuss your specific situation and answer any questions you may have.

RSA Law Group provides legal information, not legal advice. Our information explains general legal concepts and principles which may or may not be applicable to a particular person’s situation. No attorney-client relationship exists between the site and any user. RSA Law Group makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this site. Because legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each client case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing on this site should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel. If you require legal advice, we encourage you to contact us to develop an attorney-client relationship.


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