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Special needs trusts have their place in estate planning

California parents of special needs children often overcome significant barriers to ensure that their kids are well provided and cared for. However, many parents are faced with an uncomfortable question -- what happens to my children after I am gone? A special needs trust as part of a comprehensive estate plan can give parents peace of mind.

Trusts are a common estate planning tool, in which someone -- the trustee -- manages property for the benefit of another -- the beneficiary. The property within the trust can range from money to real estate and more. While some trusts have time limits, many are designed and funded to last until the beneficiary's death. Special needs trusts are an excellent choice for parents concerned about their child's future care.

Parents can create these unique trusts with the necessary funds for a child's ongoing care, relevant medical information and instructions for the trustee. Not only will this give parents the ability to continue providing support for their children after death, it can also help protect any government benefits they receive. Many individuals with disabilities that affect their mental capacity receive important government benefits, including Supplemental Security Income, and receiving a lump sum inheritance can disqualify them from SSI, Medicaid and subsidized housing.

Even if California parents have the ability to provide their adult special needs children with necessary services outside of government benefits, many of these individuals are unable to manage their personal finances. A special needs trust ensures that their financial needs will be carefully managed by a trustee. When included in a fully fleshed-out estate plan, these trusts provide an invaluable sense of security to parents and their special needs children.

Source: FindLaw, "Special Needs Trusts FAQ's", Accessed on Dec. 17, 2017

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