The last thing parents want to do is jeopardize their child’s public assistance benefits by leaving them a large inheritance. However, disinheriting a child with special needs altogether is not a good solution, since it provides no assistance from your estate after your death. This is where special needs trusts come in: they allow parents to leave funds to developmentally or physically disabled children, but maintain the child’s eligibility for public health care and assistance benefits.

A Florida Special Needs Trust Allows You to Give All You Can to Your Child

Florida special needs trusts, also called Florida supplemental needs trusts, are vital for parents who need to provide for special needs children. These trusts can be incorporated into your estate plan, will, or living trust, or can be established as a "stand-alone" trust. A special needs trust allows you to leave assets and monies to your special needs kids, preserves a child’s access to government benefits, and can help parents create a sustainable living plan for disabled children.

Our special needs planning team can explain how to structure your estate plan to protect your child, including:

  • Public benefits. Public health and assistance benefits were created to help people with very little income and resources. If a child with special needs has been left a sizable inheritance, he or she may be considered too wealthy to qualify for benefits…despite being unable to earn a living. A supplemental needs trust holds the assets you wish to leave your child, acting as a supplement to the disabled child’s government resources. When structured properly, funds in these trusts can only be used for goods and services over and above what government assistance provides for the disabled child, and cannot be used as payment for taxes or creditors.

  • Inheritance concerns. Grandparents may include a special needs grandchild as a back-up beneficiary, never anticipating that the child may inherit the entire estate by outliving other beneficiaries. In addition, they may fail to appoint someone to oversee funds on the child’s behalf, or fail to appoint a trustee to administer to the disabled child’s supplemental needs trust. If a supplemental needs trust is established after the child has already received his or her inheritance, the funds may count against the child when applying for public assistance, since she or he will have been given legal access to them.

  • Family matters. Parents should be wary of outright disinheritance as a means of protecting public benefits for a disabled child. In many cases, parents draft wills that give a non-disabled sibling certain assets with the understanding that the assets are for the benefit of the disabled child. However, the sibling could make poor choices with what to do with these assets. For example, he may decide to simply keep the money and property for himself (denying the disabled child his inheritance), or create a bank account in the disabled child’s name (disqualifying the child from benefits).

  • Special needs guardianships. Your Florida special needs planning should also include naming a legal guardian for your disabled loved one, as well as incorporating special needs instructions for your child if you become incapacitated or there is an emergency where you are not readily available.

My Pink Lawyer® attorneys are well-versed in providing legal protection for special needs children, and can help you choose the right guardian and life plans for your developmentally disabled child.

We can help you plan for many eventualities concerning a special needs child; however, we do not handle Social Security disability cases. During the planning process, we can refer you to a specialist in your area who can give this matter the attention it deserves.

Let Us Help You Make Your Child’s Future Bright

At My Pink Lawyer®, we have written a number of aids to help parents create a custom-made plan that provides for their special-needs children. Our Florida Special Needs Planning Guide and our Special Needs Care Plan Worksheet are available free of charge to all Florida mothers and families.

If your Florida child has been diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, or another developmental or intellectual disability, it is vital that you download our free guides before you begin drafting your will. If you need help with special needs planning, contact My Pink Lawyer® today to discuss your estate plans with an attorney.