Special Needs Planning Just in Case

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Many parents, especially parents of young children, may be unsure at the time they are drafting their Wills if a child will qualify for government assistance in the future. The parents may be concerned that a child has a special need but may not know the extent when that child is young. Therefore, parents are hesitant to mandate that assets pass to their child in a special needs trust when such child may or may not need a special needs trust in the future.

An effective way to handle this situation is to draft a discretionary trust for the benefit of such child that allows the trustees the flexibility to create a special needs trust if the need arises in the future. A discretionary trust allows the trustees to distribute principal and income to a child for any reason in the trustee’s discretion. Alternatively, the trust could be drafted as a special needs trust now but could direct the trustees to convert the trust to a purely discretionary trust if the child no longer receives government benefits.

Parents should carefully consider the appointment of trustees of such a trust.  Because this is a lifetime trust, a parent should consider naming younger successor trustees and possibly even a corporate trustee to serve if all of the individuals appointed can no longer serve.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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