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Special Needs Trusts

When a person is receiving governmental benefits for medical purposes and/or housing, training, day care, etc., there is a strict “asset” level which cannot be exceeded. What a person owns or receives becomes an asset if not used in the month received. Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid have differing definitions of what is a “countable” asset, depending on the type of benefit being provided for the individual. If a person has too many countable assets, he or she can lose their government benefits.

Special needs trusts are carefully drafted documents which shield assets given to or received by the individual so that the money/property does not become a countable asset. Special needs trusts can be created by any person under the age of 65 with their own assets (self funded trust), and can be created for an individual by another person (grandparent, parent, etc) who wishes to provide funds to assist the individual with things that governmental benefits do not pay for (third party trust). The money from a special needs trust can be used by the trustee for things that make the beneficiary’s life more enjoyable, like educational and travel expenditures, entertainment, a new bed for the bedroom in a group home, etc.

Carrollyn Cox also serves as a Trustee of the Virginia Beach Community Trust, which holds and invests the money in simple, third party special needs trusts and responds to the supplemental needs of the beneficiary.

A special needs trust may be drafted as a “stand alone” document and funded at any time, or it can be a part of a parent or grandparent’s will or RLT, which will take effect on the death of the donor of the assets.