This is a really important question and it’s good that you are asking about it early.  Good planning can make a huge difference in your daughter’s life, as well as helping your other children who may be left with the responsibility for caregiving (on top of their own careers and caring for their own families).

A special needs trust (also known as a “supplemental needs trust”) is an important part of planning for a disabled child (even though the child may be an adult by the time the trust is created or funded). This trust allows your daughter to receive inheritances, gifts, lawsuit settlements, or other funds and yet not lose her eligibility for certain government benefits.  A special needs trust is drafted so that the funds in the trust will not be considered to belong to your daughter in determining her eligibility for public benefits.

Special needs trusts are designed not to provide basic support, but instead to pay for comforts and luxuries that could not be paid for by public assistance funds. These trusts typically pay for things like education, recreation, travel, counseling, and medical attention beyond the simple necessities of life.  This just scratches the surface – there are many other issues you need to deal with.  Call me, we offer a free consultation to talk with you about your options.

Glenn Matecun is a partner with the law firm of Matecun, Thomas & Olson, PLC in Howell.  He is an attorney focusing on estate planning, elder law and senior Veterans’ benefits, and answers readers’ questions on legal matters affecting individuals, their families and their businesses.  Listen to Glenn on Senior Law Radio, WMUZ 103.5 FM, every Saturday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Email questions to questions@mtolaw.com, or if your question is urgent, call (517) 548-7400.  Visit us at www.MichiganEstatePlans.com.  The information in this column is not intended as legal advice.

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