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Reasons to Create a Special Needs Trust Before Child Turns 18

Father with his son in wheelchair at park

One of the most important things you can do for your children is to establish a living trust in their name. And much like a will, it’s recommended to establish a trust as early on in their life as possible. While trusts may sound like an aspect of life reserved for the super-wealthy, they are actually more common and more necessary than you might think. If you have a child with special needs, then it becomes even more important to establish what is known as a Special Needs Trust for them. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the main reasons why you should create one before your child turns 18.

Protect Their Future

The best way to protect your child’s future is by having an estate plan in place for them. Having an estate plan is important for every family, regardless if a dependent has a disability. Setting up a trust for your child with special needs will offer them stability and protection should anything happen to you, their parent or guardian. As with any family, it’s important to consider the future of your children in the event the unimaginable happens. Proper estate planning via a special needs trust can help you do just that.

Gift Funding

Setting up a special needs trust for your child can be a useful tool for other family members and friends who want to gift monetary funds or even assets to your special needs child. For many families, gifting that occurs to the trust directly instead of the child is a preferred method of gifting. This allows that child to maintain access to certain governmental resources like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).


Just as with a traditional trust, a special needs trust will allow the beneficiary to have access to property assets. The trust can detail as little or as much in regards to who will manage the property and who can assist with issues such as the maintenance, rental management, or even the sale of the home.

Protect Your Child’s Access to Care

The cost of caring for a child with special needs can be great, and children with more severe disabilities will often require costlier care. Governmental assistance programs and benefits designed specifically for individuals with disabilities can be a great resource for families. However, individuals who tip over the qualifying income threshold can lose out on these resources. A special needs trust can be a way to circumvent the loss of these important resources. Assets that are designated for the beneficiary and that are included in the trust will not count against your child’s income requirement when seeking out those government resources. Setting up a special needs trust will allow your child to continue having access to those resources while using the funds in their trust to address other expenses in their life such as medical equipment or treatments not covered by government programs.

Care management

A special needs trust is different from a living trust in that special needs trusts may include additional language that spells out how the beneficiary will be cared for as required by their disability. Conversely, the trust may also want to spell out how the beneficiary can care for themselves despite their disability. Depending on your family circumstances, a trust offers the opportunity to detail how different family members will be involved in different aspects of the beneficiaries’ care. By spelling out the details of your child care management, you can avoid any confusion or misunderstanding when it comes time for your child to access their trust.

Peace of Mind

As with a traditional trust or will, establishing a special needs trust for your child before they turn 18 will give you overall peace of mind. It can be overwhelming at times to navigate life with a child who has special needs. Setting up a trust early on will allow a parent or caretaker to have comfort in knowing that their child’s future and security will be taken care of.

Seeking Out Legal Guidance

Being detailed and thorough in your child’s special needs trust will allow you to ensure that you have checked all the boxes in regards to their care, future, and security. Reach out to our offices today to speak with a representative who can help you get started on what is undeniably one of the most important choices you can make in your child’s life.

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