So many have a child or loved one with special needs. You want to make sure that they are protected and taken care of after you are gone.

Creating a plan for them can be extremely challenging. Proper Special Needs Planning will allow you to protect your loved one in a manner that fits for your family. An attorney who specializes in Estate Planning and Special Needs Trust can help create the documents you need to protect your loved one. An experienced Financial Professional can help you make sure that your goals and wishes are within reach financially.


When starting this type of planning you should be aware of certain considerations: 

  • Do not disinherit your loved one. A common thought is that you give a greater share of one’s estate or life insurance proceeds to the “healthy” child and disinheriting the other child. This can cause a strain on the family dynamic and is not necessary. The solution is to create a Special Needs Trust, through an attorney.  You can create a trust that is used for purely discretionary purposes, as well as a trust that can be used for maintaining the quality of life you desire for your loved one.

  • Choose the Trustee(s) carefully. Typically the trustee is given the sole and absolute discretion to act on behalf of the beneficiary (the special needs person).  This is a standard that is required for determining whether the beneficiary is eligible for benefits such as SSI or Medicaid. Whether it’s a family member or a professional, be sure to chose somebody with the capabilities to make these types of decisions.

  • Make sure the trust is properly funded. Consider using life insurance to fund the Special Needs Trust. You do not need to have cash built up inside the policy, but you need to make sure that the life insurance will be in place for your lifetime. In the event that there are 2 parents involved, consider a Second To Die Policy, which will pay a death benefit to the Trust upon the passing of the second insured. It is important that the life insurance policy is owned by the Trust.  Having the trust in place before the insurance is acquired is the best way to achieve this goal.

  • Do not plan on using IRA’s and other Retirement Plans to fund the Trust.  Typically these types of plans will have distribution requirements which could severely hinder the goals and desires of the plan.  Additionally, these types of accounts typically are market investments, which may lose value.

  • Coordinate your plan with others.  Make sure you tell your relatives, and certain friends about your plans. Often times, with the best of intentions people will leave an inheritance for a person with special needs as a way to help.  If this is done outside of the Trust, it can curtail not only the intentions of the trust, but also have a negative effect on the special needs person getting benefits they may need.

Keep these factors in mind as you consider how to best plan for the special needs person in your life.