How may I leave my assets to an adult with special needs?

Your estate planning could include a trust that manages assets for an adult requiring lifelong care. The AARP notes that you may create a special needs trust to provide for a beneficiary who has a disability or an injury.

Before you die, you could set up a support system through a trustee and other professionals. With a special needs trust, your beneficiary may still continue receiving financial aid and benefits such as Medicaid.

What may I include in a special needs trust?

A special needs trust allows you to add an unlimited amount of money to provide for your beneficiary. Trust funds cannot, however, go towards housing or food costs if a disabled individual is receiving federal Supplemental Security Income benefits. You may, however, leave instructions for a trustee to pay for other expenses or extras.

If you own property, you may transfer it to a trust and allow your disabled beneficiary to live in it. Your chosen trustee may also work with an accountant to manage real estate that generates income for your beneficiary. Your instructions may specify how trust funds should cover property expenses such as taxes, insurance and maintenance.

How may a trust provide for a beneficiary?

A disabled family member may have become dependent on you for meeting certain needs. He or she may also outlive you. A 2020 research report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association noted that adults with Down syndrome have a life expectancy of 60 years. Researchers also found that adults with disabilities such as cerebral palsy could live to reach their 50s.

Without establishing a special needs support network, your death may lead to changes in a disabled adult’s accustomed lifestyle. Creating a special needs trust could maintain an existing lifestyle for an adult family member who cannot manage on his or her own.

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