On October 19th through 21st Mr. Pete Losavio attended the Stetson Law Special Needs Trust Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. A wide variety of information surrounding SNTs was covered, from law changes and updates to new developments in implementation.
Though not as widely understood as a Will, Power of Attorney, or basic Trust, a Special Needs Trust can be an extremely useful tool.
Special Needs Trusts, in a nutshell:
A Special Needs Trust, often called a Supplemental Needs Trust, is designed to enable individuals with a physical or mental disability, or chronic or acquired illness, to have assets in Trust for their benefit. The assets in an SNT are not considered countable therefore they do not prohibit certain governmental benefits. Such benefits may include Medicaid, subsidized housing, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), vocational rehabilitation, and other benefits based on need.
A SNT is meant to be used to cover what government benefits do not. If the government assists with 50% of the disabled beneficiaries needs, for example, then the SNT should provide 50% as well. If the government provides for 30%, then the SNT should provide for 70%. SNT should be written so that a sliding scale is used to allow for such coverage.
Not only do Special Needs Trust allow for continued qualification for benefits, but they are also not subject to creditors or seizure. Should the beneficiary ever become involved in a lawsuit, the money in Trust will remain there.
The information provided here is general and the specific language to properly draft a Special Needs Trust is very specific. If you are thinking of having a SNT drafted, make sure you utilize a professional versed in such documents to ensure you’re using it to the best of its ability.
Information provided in part by the National Special Needs Network