When you have a disabled adult child, you want to handle your estate plans very carefully.
Your child likely relies heavily on needs-based government programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. You know that leaving your child money directly could interfere with those benefits, so you’re considering a special needs trust — but you don’t quite understand how they work.
What can you buy with the money in a special needs trust?
Special needs trusts are designed to hold money and assets that can be used to enhance the quality of a disabled person’s life without interfering with any public assistance programs for which they otherwise qualify, e.g., SSI.
With that in mind, money from a trust cannot ever be given directly to the disabled person — because that would be considered income. The money also cannot be used to pay for necessary food and shelter items.
So what can money in a special needs trust buy? Consider the following examples:
- Specialty medical equipment (like a travel wheelchair) that isn’t covered under their insurance
- Medical treatments, like physical therapy or rehab, that aren’t provided by their insurance
- Companion and home health services, so that they have someone to help with their daily activities
- Computers, e-readers, smart phones and other electronic devices, including game consoles
- Hobby supplies, art supplies, musical instruments and other entertainment items
- Vacations, summer camps and specialty camps
- Travel costs, including things like ride-hailing services, bus tickets or a driver
Because the rules surrounding special needs trusts are so specific, it’s wisest to get some experienced assistance as you work through your plans. An attorney can help you learn more.