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Special Needs Trusts

Nashville Lawyers Skilled in Estate Planning Matters

Seeking to provide for a loved one with a disability may require specific planning and certain tools to be utilized to ensure that they have the resources that they need. Special needs trusts allow for disabled individuals to continue to receive necessary government benefits, such as Medicaid or TennCare, as well as enjoy lifestyle enhancements that they would not otherwise be able to access without the aid of other assets. The Nashville estate planning attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC provide legal assistance and guidance to help clients determine which estate plan makes sense for them. MHPS offers individualized services and knowledgeable legal representation that serve our clients’ interests and further the goals that they set for their future. If you need help with a special needs trust or have questions regarding another trust, will, or estate issue, contact our office today to find out more about our legal services.

Types of Special Needs Trusts

Special needs trusts, also known as supplemental needs trusts, are beneficial to disabled individuals in that they allow for the continued receipt of governmental benefits that are income-based, such as TennCare Medicaid benefits and Social Security Supplemental Income (SSI), even if they receive a significant sum of money from an alternative source. There are two types of special needs trusts, a self-settled special needs trust (or a first-party special needs trust) and a third-party special needs trust.

A self-settled special needs trust is made up of a disabled individual’s personal assets, often stemming from damages awarded in a personal injury claim or money passed on to the individual from an inheritance. A self-settled special needs trust must include a provision regarding payback. This means that when the beneficiary of a first-party special needs trust passes away, the assets that remain in the trust are to be used first to pay back into the Medicaid system before they may be distributed to any family members.

A third-party special needs trust is established by another individual for the benefit of a disabled person, and it is sometimes contained in another instrument, such as a living will. The trust appoints a trustee to manage the assets and use their discretion to spend money on behalf of the named beneficiary so that they may receive care without losing eligibility for their government assistance. A special needs trust’s funds are not intended to provide basic support for a beneficiary, but instead they are used for supplemental needs and comforts, such as caretakers, out-of-pocket medical costs, educational expenses, dental care, eyeglasses, recreation and vacations, or physical rehabilitation.

Many times, special needs trusts are the most efficient way for parents to care for a disabled child, even when that child is in adulthood. Supplemental needs trusts are also used to protect a family member’s property from mismanagement by another person, and they may be established with or without the appointment of a conservator. Because of the regulatory and statutory issues involved in making sure that a beneficiary’s Medicaid and SSI eligibility is not affected, careful consideration should be involved in drafting and executing these types of trusts. Consulting an experienced attorney may be important to ensure that a special needs trust is established properly.

Contact a Seasoned Trusts and Estates Lawyer in Nashville

Making sure that your loved ones are protected is one of the most important concerns in determining how to plan your estate. The Nashville attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC understand the specific concerns that individuals caring for disabled loved ones face in such planning, and we work with clients to ensure that they are comfortable and confident that the plan that they choose is right for them. Our firm also offers seasoned legal assistance to residents of Franklin, East Nashville, Bellevue, and Sylvan Park, as well as other areas across Williamson and Davidson Counties. If you need assistance with establishing a special needs trust for a family member or you, or you need guidance from an elder law attorney for another matter, you can contact us online or at 615-800-7096 today.