A Special Needs Trust Can Protect Your Medicaid Eligibility

A New York attorney can help you set up a special needs trust

Healthcare costs are rapidly rising. Medicaid provides an essential medical care safety net for people who are low-income, blind, disabled and over 65. For disabled people, a special needs trust (also called supplemental needs trust or SNT) can be used to shelter assets and maintain the person’s Medicaid eligibility. More than that, it ensures that the disabled person will have money to take care of many different kinds of basic living expenses that Medicaid does not cover

An assigned trustee acquires, manages and spends trust assets

A special needs trust provides benefits to a disabled person without jeopardizing Medicaid benefits. Under Medicaid rules, assets in a special needs trust are not counted as resources for the purpose of Medicaid eligibility. The assets in a special needs trust can be used to pay for:

  • Rent and utilities
  • Vacation, dining, activities for the beneficiary and one companion
  • Credit/debit card expenses, if the card is only used for the beneficiary
  • Insurance for items that are part of the trust’s assets such as a house or car

Funds from the trust must not be used to pay for gifts and/or charitable or political donations.

An assigned trustee acquires, manages and spends trust assets

Many regulations govern how a special needs trust must be set up and managed. For example, the special needs trust must be:

  • Set up by a parent, grandparent, legal guardian or court with assets of a single disabled person
  • Funded with their own assets or gifted assets before that person reaches 65 years old
  • An irrevocable trust
  • For the sole benefit of the trust beneficiary to enhance the beneficiary’s quality of life, including supplemental care, or other special needs
  • Used for things that a parent would not provide (if the trust is for a minor)
  • Managed by a trustee (the beneficiary may not have direct access to the trust’s funds)
  • Accounted for annually by reporting all assets, income and disbursements related to the trust

Because of all the regulations and the yearly accounting requirement, it’s important that the special needs trust be set up properly. You should seek the advice of a New York attorney with estate planning experience to help you set up a New York special needs trust.

Contact our New York estate planning attorneys to set up a special needs trust

The New York estate planning attorneys at Lissner & Lissner LLP can provide legal counsel on medical and estate planning for people with disabilities. Located in midtown Manhattan, we have been helping our clients with elder law, estate law and Medicaid planning for more than 65 years. We can help you create a special needs trust that works for your specific situation. Call (212) 307-1499 or contact us online today for help setting up your supplemental needs trust.