Special Needs Planning Services

If you have ever been the caregiver for a disabled person, you are familiar with what it takes to properly care for them. Comprehensive care includes not only medical care, but also personal needs. If that person receives assistance from need-based government programs, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income, it becomes necessary to do what you can to protect their eligibility for those programs. Special needs planning s designed to address these issues. Caring for the disabled after the caregiver has died or become incapacitated is made possible with special needs planning at Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a valuable estate planning tool that allows you to place money and other assets aside for a beneficiary, to be managed by a trustee. The person creating the trust chooses who will serve as the trustee, to hold and manage the funds, while being responsible for meeting the terms of the trust.
special needs planning

The Purpose of a Special Needs Planning

The purpose of a Special Needs Trust is to provide future care for those who are disabled. Future planning is essential, just in case the caregiver becomes unable to continue providing care due to death or incapacity. The financial resources needed to continue proper care are placed in a Special Needs Trust so that they can be protected from lawsuits and creditors.

A Special Needs Trust can also protect these funds, so they are not counted as financial assets of the disabled. Otherwise, those funds may have an effect on eligibility for government benefits. For instance, the resource limit for an individual to be eligible for Medicaid is $2,000. Though certain assets, such as your residence, are not included as resources in determining eligibility, it is easy for your savings to be depleted rather quickly before Medicaid will begin paying for long-term care costs.

How is the Term “Special Needs” Defined?

The term “special needs” generally includes both medical and health care services, along with many other related services intended to increase the quality of life of the beneficiary. There are many options available, and they can be tailored to meet the needs of each beneficiary. A Special Needs Trust can also provide additional services, such as assistance with daily living activities and respite care for the primary caregiver. Establishing living arrangements or making necessary renovations to the beneficiary’s home may also be accomplished through the trust.

Types of Special Needs Trusts

There are basically two types of Special Needs Trusts: one for general support and one for supplement care. A General Support Special Needs Trust is usually considered the primary source of benefits for a disabled person. Whereas, a Supplemental Care Special Needs Trust is often the secondary source of benefits, which come into play after government benefits have been exhausted. Analyzing what type of Special Needs Trust would be right for your disabled loved one can be a complex decision.

Reno NV Special Needs Planning Consultation

If you have questions regarding Special Needs Planning, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. to schedule a consultation.

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Special Needs Financial Planning FAQ

Is there any risk involved if I leave a loved one with a disability a direct inheritance?

Some negative consequences can come about if you not take steps to implement an intelligently conceived plan. People with special needs are going to require costly medical care throughout their lives. For most, Medicaid is a much needed source of health insurance.

This program is only available to people with very limited assets. Though there are some possessions that do not count, the resource limit is just $2000. As a result, a sudden windfall could result in a loss of benefit eligibility.

Are there any other benefits that could be forfeited?

Yes, there is another need-based benefit that many people with disabilities rely upon to one extent or another. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides a very limited but steady source of income. Eligibility can be negatively impacted by a change in financial status.

What is the solution?

There is a legal device called a supplemental needs trust or special needs trust. If you were to establish this type of trust, you would be called the grantor, and the person that you want to provide for would be the beneficiary. You would fund the trust and name a trustee to serve as the administrator.

Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income do not necessarily satisfy all the needs of a benefit recipient. As long as the program rules are followed precisely, the trustee could use assets in the trust to satisfy these unmet needs without impacting ongoing benefit eligibility.

What happens to assets that may be left in the trust after the death of the beneficiary?

This is a very good question, and the answer underscores why effective special needs planning is so important on a couple of different levels. If you establish a trust for the benefit of another person, it would be a third-party trust, because the assets would be coming from someone other than the beneficiary.

Medicaid is required to seek reimbursement from the estates of people that were enrolled in the program during their lives. When a third-party special needs trust has been established, the remainder would be out of play during these estate recovery efforts.

As the grantor of the trust, you would name a secondary beneficiary to assume ownership of the remaining assets in the trust after the passing of the initial beneficiary. This transfer would not be subject to Medicaid recovery.

Why is there this distinction? Can a disabled person establish their own special needs trust?

These questions would naturally come to mind if you have been paying attention. Sometimes a person with a disability will come into money through a personal injury settlement, or even an inheritance that is clumsily passed along.

Under these circumstances, a representative of a person with a disability, such as a parent, a grandparent, a legal guardian, or a court, could use the assets to fund a special needs trust. This would be a first person or self-settled special needs trust.

The situation would be the same with regard to the ability of the trustee to utilize assets in the trust to satisfy the supplemental needs of the grantor/beneficiary. However, the assets would not be protected during estate recovery. This is the downside, and it can be quite costly depending on the extent of the resources in question.

Special Needs Resources

American Foundation for the Blind

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB’s priorities include broadening access to technology, elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss, and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources.
Visit The American Foundation for the Blind


The Arc is the world’s largest community based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It provides an array of services and support for families and individuals. The Arc is devoted to promoting and improving supports and services for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Visit The ARC

Council for Exceptional Children

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities, students with disabilities, and/or the gifted. CEC advocates for appropriate governmental policies, sets professional standards, provides continual professional development, advocates for newly and historically underserved individuals with exceptionalities, and helps professionals obtain conditions and resources necessary for effective professional practice.
Visit The Council for Exceptional Children

Developmental Disabilities Resource Center

DDRC provides leading-edge services that create opportunities for people with developmental disabilities and their families to participate fully in the community. Quality, dignity and choice are the values of DDRC.
Visit The Developmental Disabilities Resource Center

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society is a collective of passionate individuals who want to do something about MS now. They help each person address the challenges of living with MS through their 50-state network of chapters. The Society helps people affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, and providing programs and services that help people with MS and their families move their lives forward.
Visit The National Multiple Sclerosis Society

National Organization on Disability

The mission of the National Organization on Disability (NOD) is to expand the participation and contribution of America’s 54 million men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. NOD is working toward closing the participation gap by raising disability awareness through programs and information.
Visit The National Organization on Disability

Office of Special Education Programs

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) understands the many challenges still facing individuals with disabilities and their families. Therefore, OSERS is committed to improving results and outcomes for people with disabilities of all ages. OSERS supports programs that serve millions of children, youth and adults with disabilities.
Visit The Office of Special Education Programs

Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration’s Strategic Plan provides a guide for meeting the goals of the President’s Management Agenda and the Government Performance and Results Act, and describes how the Agency will deliver results for the American people.
Visit The Social Security Administration

United Cerebral Palsy Association, Inc.

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is the leading source of information on cerebral palsy and is a pivotal advocate for the rights of persons with any disability. As one of the largest health charities in America, the UCP mission is to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities through an affiliate network.
Visit The United Cerebral Palsy Association, Inc.
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