Many families worry about providing support for a family member with a disability without disqualifying them from government assistance. This is particularly concerning for those who have some assets to sustain them but cannot afford the care and treatment they need without some government benefits.
Without some careful planning, many people with disabilities find themselves without care and living necessities because they do not qualify for benefits. If you have a family member with a disability who needs government benefits, a special needs trust may be a good tool for preserving assets and assistance.
Avoiding the donut hole
Many government assistance programs only approve benefits for individuals who meet the qualifications in their disability as well as their income. An individual with a significant disability may easily miss qualifying for benefits because their income or assets are too high.
Homeowners frequently run into this complication. If a homeowner with a disability keeps their home in their name, they may find that they cannot qualify for assistance, no matter how needful it is. A special needs trust may allow a homeowner to place the home in the trust, removing from their personal property. Once the home is no longer their property, they may more easily qualify for government benefits.
Properly using resources within a special needs trust
In order to qualify for government assistance, the beneficiary typically should avoid receiving funds directly from a trust. Receiving funds directly may violate the terms of government assistance, but the trustee may make purchases on the beneficiary’s behalf without placing government assistance at risk.
While a trustee cannot justify absolutely all expenses from a special needs trust, these funds can go toward the beneficiary’s personal care and living expenses, as well as broader categories like entertainment and gifts.
It is also worth noting that once a person’s property goes into a trust, that property is safe from many kinds of litigation.
Protect the ones you love with careful planning
Special needs trusts are not the right legal tool for everyone, but they can be crucial for those with disabilities. Do not wait to build a legal strategy to help you keep the rights of your loved ones protected, especially if government assistance is an important part of your long-term estate plan in Georgia.