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Trust options for those with disabilities

An estate plan is a common means people use to secure the future of their loved ones. Depending on the size of the estate and the particular needs of the estate holder and beneficiaries, different elements of the plan may be best for the estate.

In particular, a trust can be a great way to secure funds to take care of beneficiaries, especially those with disabilities. There are a few possible trust options to choose from:

Third party

A third party trust is the most common type and is set up by family members of the disabled person. A trustee makes sure that the funds are going towards the needs, and some desires, of the person the trust is for. Some common uses for this trust include:

  • Personal expenses
  • Transportation
  • Personal services
  • Hobbies or classes
  • Vacations

All distributions go directly toward fees for activities. A beneficiary cannot receive cash gifts or access the trust directly.


There is new legislation that allows people with disabilities to a certain extent to open their own trusts. These accounts are self-settled trusts, and either the disabled party or a family member may establish them. These trusts can manage a variety of assets, such as:

  • Life insurance payments
  • Inheritance
  • Personal injury settlements

There are a few different types of self-settled trusts to choose from. It is important that parties be aware of the criteria of the federal and state regulations to ensure that the trust is acceptable.


As the name indicates, a pooled trust is an account that allows family members and loved ones to pool their funds together into one trust for a disabled party. Like the other trusts, a family member of the disabled person may create the trust, and others may contribute to it.

These are the main groups of trusts to choose from, however, there are several options to consider within each one. If you are thinking about opening a trust for a disabled loved one, do your research and consider consulting with a knowledgeable attorney to make the best decision.  

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