Houston Estate Planning for Children with Special Needs

Estate planning is critical for people of all ages and especially important for people with varying life circumstances. For instance, families who have children with special needs should think about developing an estate plan and putting specific provisions in place for their children. One such measure parents should take is creating a Houston special needs trust for their children. This protects any potential public benefits the child may receive in the future while still allowing families to indirectly assist their special needs loved one with fulfilling their basic needs.

What is a Special Needs Trust?

A Special or Supplemental Needs Trust is created to hold the property of a special needs person and distribute the funds to them in a way that still preserves their eligibility for public benefits. Many government programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and Medicaid, offer benefits to special needs individuals; however, to qualify for these programs, an individual cannot own more than $2,000 in assets. However, many family members want to give their loved one assistance without disqualifying them for these benefits. Without a special needs trust in place, giving gifts or assets directly to another person will likely result in losing any public benefits.

The creator of the Special Needs Trust is able to set aside money in the trust for the special needs child, which can only be used for supplemental needs above the benefits provided by government programs. These supplemental needs may include travel, entertainment, computers, vehicles, and education, but cannot include food, clothing, and housing expenses because public benefits can be used for these expenses.

Additionally, the individual with special needs cannot have any control over the assets in the trust, in order to remain eligible for government support. This power is in the hands of the named trustee, and this person determines the use of the assets. Because the special needs child has no control over the trust, they do not have a legal claim to the trust property. Thus these assets are not countable when assessing eligibility for public benefits. By establishing a Special Needs Trust, parents can enhance their child’s life while allowing them to still qualify for critical government benefits.

Because Special Needs Trusts are complex legal instruments with long-term ramifications if they are improperly drafted, it is vital those interested in creating a Special Needs Trust contact an experienced estate planning attorney.

Creating a Houston Estate Plan for Your Special Needs Child

If you have a child with special needs and are looking to create a Houston special needs trust, contact the attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. With our decades of experience and impressive skill set, we will put together a plan that meets your needs, and those of your child. Because each situation is unique, we take the time to sit with you, explain the special needs trust process, and ensure your needs, and those of your child, are being met. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, call us today at 713-333-8900.

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