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The advantages and necessities of a special needs trust

You think about your special needs child every day, and the concerns never cease. He is dependent on you and your spouse. For his entire life, the caring, the feeding, the loving and the financial wherewithal rested on your lap. And you have had minimal outside help.

But you know there is a strong chance that your child outlives you, and this makes you wonder who will take your place in looking after your child. The answer really is not a “who.” It is a “village” standing on a foundation built by a special needs trust. This vehicle provides the financial structure and base needed to last up to 40 years or as long as your child remains alive.

Research, guidance and family funding

A special needs trust not only provides you with peace of mind, but also the money your child needs to live for the rest of his life. In addition, it has other advantages. Money from within a special needs trust also does not disqualify your child from certain government benefits, including Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Because special needs trusts are complex, it is crucial to do research and meet with skilled professionals, including a financial adviser and estate planning attorney. Among the details to understand about special needs trusts include:

  • They can pay for health care aides, education, computers and necessary equipment such as wheelchairs and hearing aids.
  • They cannot be used for payments on food and shelter.

And since this also is about family, it is a good idea to talk with family members willing to provide funds to the trust. A special needs trust needs a bare minimum of $100,000, and likely requires much more, perhaps even millions.

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