Parents of special needs children in New Jersey are often grateful for every moment they have with their child. However, they may understand that their child will need life-long care, and, thus, may be worried about what will happen to their child once they are no longer alive. This is where estate planning becomes very important.
One option that may be considered if parents believe it is likely their child would be eligible for government benefits once they reach age 18 is to execute a special needs trust. The funds in a special needs trust are meant to supplement the benefits the child receives from the government, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, while ensuring that the child’s income and resources won’t be so high as to make the child ineligible for these benefits. For example, government benefits could be used to pay for the child’s housing, food and health care, but the funds in a special needs trust could be used for other enrichments, such as entertainment expenses.
A special needs trust can be funded at the time it is executed, or it can be funded once the parents of the special needs child pass away. In either case, the child can benefit from utilizing the resources in the special needs trust alongside the government benefits they receive as an adult, and the parents can rest assured that their special needs child will be cared for and lead as fulfilling a life as possible, even after they are gone.
Special needs trusts are complex legal documents. A boilerplate form may not be adequate to address each parent’s and child’s unique situation. Therefore, those interested in executing a special needs trust will want to seek the professional guidance they need to ensure the document reflects their wishes and is legally sound.