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Special Needs Trusts are trusts designed to protect the assets of disabled persons and to provide them with an enhanced quality of life. If you meet the definition of disabled under Social Security and are under the age of 65, then a Special Needs Trust might be right for you. Only a qualified special needs trust attorney can discuss whether a Special Needs Trust is right for you or a loved one. Mark Shalloway, West Palm Beach attorney with Shalloway & Shalloway, P.A., is experienced in planning and drafting Special Needs Trusts.
Special Needs Trusts protect a disabled person’s assets from depletion during their lifetime. Assets might include those received from inheritance or from tort recovery, such as a verdict or settlement from a car accident or medical malpractice case. These specially designed trusts are drafted to protect these assets while allowing the beneficiary to receive necessary public and social benefits (Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, etc.). Without a Special Needs Trust, any assets of the beneficiary will ultimately need to be depleted or “spent down” before the public agencies will provide benefits. Under the protection of a Special Needs Trust, the beneficiary will continue to collect his or her public benefits, and the assets in the trust can be used to supplement his or her care and quality of life. Upon death any assets remaining in the trust will be distributed to public benefits agencies and then the remainder to the person’s beneficiaries.
Best illustrated through examples, consider the following:
A 40 year old woman becomes physically disabled due to a car accident. At trial, she is awarded $500,000. The woman currently receives SSI and Medicaid because she can no longer work.
Without a Special Needs Trust: The $500,000 will be depleted. The woman will no longer be eligible to receive Medicaid or SSI because now her assets are too high. Thus, the $500,000 will be used for this woman’s income and medical care until it is gone and she again qualifies for SSI and Medicaid. Once the funds are depleted, the woman will be solely dependent on governmental benefits without any other funds to supplement her during her lifetime.
With a Special Needs Trust: The woman continues to receive her SSI and Medicaid benefits. She will also be able to keep every penny of the $500,000 during her lifetime. This money can be used to supplement her life for things such as better housing, quality food, and clothing. Only upon her death will any money remaining in the trust be recovered by governmental agencies providing public benefits. Any remainder will be distributed to her beneficiaries.
Living with a disability is hard enough. If you could retain your assets as well as your public benefits, why wouldn’t you? The attorneys at Shalloway & Shalloway, P.A., are experienced special needs trust attorneys who will work with you on your Special Needs Trust so that you can live your life to the highest quality while retaining your much needed public benefits. Contact us today to find out how.