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Funding a special needs trust for your child

Taking care of your special needs child is one of the most important parts of your life. While your child may rely on Medicaid or other government programs to take care of basic expenses, you chip in for any extra expenses needed. But how do you fund your child’s extra needs after you pass away?

A special needs trust is an important part of estate planning. Giving an inheritance directly to your child could cause a loss of government benefits. By creating a trust, you make sure your child has money for extra care while still qualifying for government aid.

Asset limits for government benefits

Government benefits like Medicaid and Social Security pay for most of your child’s expenses. But to qualify, your child can only have a limited amount in assets. And if your child has extra expenses to improve his or her quality of life like housing, entertainment or traveling, government benefits won’t cover those.

Avoiding asset limits with a special needs trust

You can leave money for your child while avoiding asset limits by setting up a special needs trust. A special needs trust is an irrevocable trust with your child as the beneficiary. Since it is irrevocable, your child does not have direct access to it. Instead, you appoint a trustee, typically a family member or friend, who draws from the trust to pay for your child’s extra needs. And the government doesn’t count the assets in the trust towards your child’s asset limit for benefits.

Setting up a special needs trust

A special needs trust is a part of your estate plan. When you set up the trust, you decide how much of your estate will fund the trust when you pass away. You also choose who the trustee will be and what happens to money in the trust when your child passes. An attorney can help you set up the trust correctly.

Taking care of your special needs child is important. A special needs trust makes sure that your child is taken care of after you pass away.

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