Ensuring the well-being of loved ones incapable of caring for themselves is one of the greatest challenges any New York City family can face. If the onset of the incapacity is the result of some unexpected catastrophe, such as a near-fatal accident, concern about how to meet care costs can infringe on the delivery of that care.

One possible way to alleviate that concern may be through a supplemental or special needs trust. Whether it is a worthwhile tool for your situation is something to explore with a skilled estate planning attorney committed to providing clear and effective guidance to achieve your unique needs and goals.

Many may be aware that supplemental needs trusts are available but be unaware of what purpose they serve. The easiest way to think of them is that they offer a means by which to provide for a beneficiary’s needs beyond those paid for by public benefit programs.

This is important because the government resources so many individuals with severe physical or mental disabilities rely upon can be stripped away if the person’s income is too high. With a properly structured supplemental needs trust, funds under management of a trustee do not count as income to the beneficiary. So, while government benefits meet basic and critical needs, a trust can be used to improve overall quality of life, paying for such things as:

  • Vacations and general recreation
  • Home furnishing, perhaps even a home
  • Education
  • Vehicles

Even if your situation is such that you don’t have to rely on government benefits, a special needs trust can be helpful in meeting specific identified needs now or in the future. And a trust makes it possible to achieve government benefit eligibility if it proves necessary.

Supplemental needs trusts hold potential to minimize taxes and provide for an efficient transfer of assets for the long-term welfare the beneficiary. But to be confident that technicalities are identified and addressed by the tool warrants working with experienced legal counsel.