Lidia Law Firm, P.C.
Estate Planning & Business Law

What is a special needs trust?

If you are the parent of an Oklahoma special needs child, you undoubtedly do everything in your power to see to it that your child receives the care and services (s)he needs. But you also likewise worry about who will care for your child if (s)he outlives you and if the money will be there to provide that care once you are no longer around.

It may surprise you to learn that establishing a special needs trust for the benefit of your child could relieve both your worries. As FindLaw explains, a special needs trust names your child as trust beneficiary, lists the trust assets, designates you as trustee, plus your choice of successor trustee in the event of your incapacity or death, and specifies who you want to care for your disabled child once you can no longer do so yourself.

Trust assets

You have complete control over the assets you transfer into your child’s special needs trust. Most parents include the following as part of the trust’s assets:

  • Your child’s Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, etc.
  • Any subsidies (s)he receives such as for housing, education, employment, etc.
  • Any money or other assets (s)he inherits during his or her lifetime
  • Any money (s)he receives from a lawsuit settlement or jury award
  • Any additional income-producing assets you desire

Trust advantages

Once you transfer the assets into the special needs trust, your child no longer owns them personally. Instead, the trust owns them. This means that your child continues to maintain his or her eligibility for state and federal benefits, not only those (s)he receives now, but also any that may become available in the future.

As trustee, you continue to control and manage your child’s assets and their distribution, just as you do now. Upon your incapacity or death, your designated successor trustee performs these duties. Also be sure to designate the person or facility that you want to care for your child after your death.

While this is general educational information only and not intended to provide legal advice, it can help you understand special needs trusts and what to expect if you establish one.

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