Anyone who has raised a special needs child can tell you that the cost of doing so can be significant. Yet as a parent, you want your child to get the benefit of every possible source of assistance available right? We all want that for our children. In the case of a special needs child, it can be ever more important to make sure that he or she has access to all the financial assistance programs out there. While the federal government has numerous assistance programs such as Medicaid, SSI and subsidized housing that may be able to help, a parent’s financial resources can disqualify the child. Depleting all of your resources may leave you without funds to help in the future which makes this a no-win situation. This is where a Supplemental Needs Trust, or SNT, comes in.
A SNT is a special kind of trust that allows you a legal mechanism to provide supplemental assistance beyond that which is provided by government funded programs. When a properly drafted SNT is used, your child will not be disqualified for government funded assistance programs based on the assets held by the trust.
Along with very specific language that must be used to create a SNT, there are a number of very complicated rules that go along with this type of trust such as exactly what the trust is allowed to pay for, who may benefit from an SNT, and who may create one. If you think that a SNT may benefit your child, consult with your estate planning attorney as soon as possible.