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Creating a Trust For People With Special Needs

One of the number one reasons that parents go to estate planning attorneys in Virginia is to ensure that their minor children will be safe and well provided for in the event of their untimely death or incapacitation. Usually, part of the plan entails making certain that there is at least enough money to raise all of the children until the youngest reaches the age of adulthood. However, when it comes to adults or children with special needs, the requirement for care may continue indefinitely.

In Virginia, estate planning lawyers often establish special needs trusts (also known as supplemental needs trust) to safeguard the interests of physically or mentally disable individuals. A special needs trust is an instrument that is funded by someone for the benefit of a person who has a mental or severe physical limitation. This irrevocable trust is managed by a handpicked trustee. The trustee can be a family member, friend, or even a financial institution.

Special needs trusts have a number of advantages for estate planners:

  • The special needs trust protects the assets that are set aside for a disabled individual without interfering with his or her eligibility for government program benefits. In many cases, government programs involve means tests for individuals. However, because the beneficiary has no control over his or her assets, they are not usually considered in the calculation.
  • A trustee that the benefactor appoints will oversee the assets for the individual. This person has a legal and moral obligation to the beneficiary and there are laws in place to ensure that he or she lives up to it.
  • In cases where the disabled adult is unable to make decisions about his or her own money, the trustee can use it to fund education, medical costs, occupational therapy, and other things that benefit the individual.
  • Creditors are not able to seize the funds in the special needs trust.

That a child or adult with physical or mental deficiencies could potentially be left on his or her own, or remanded to the custody of the state, are terrifying and depressing prospects for any caregiver or parent. Estate planners can provide the comfort of knowing that loved ones will live a happy and comfortable life for decades after their caregivers are gone. If you are responsible for a child or adult with special needs, contact a qualified Virginia estate planning attorney to develop and implement a special needs trust.

Since 1980 the AV-rated law firm of Hale Ball has served the legal needs of individuals and businesses. Our team of attorneys include lawyers named to Super Lawyer and Rising Star lists, as well as attorneys with advanced legal degrees, specialty certifications and lawyers who teach their areas of practice to other lawyers.

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