There are several state and federal programs for children with special needs. The majority of those programs are “needs-based”, which means that the child must qualify by not exceeding income or asset limits. The programs which are available, and the financial qualifications are unique for each case.
Planning for the financial needs of a special needs child (or grandchild), by taking care not to disqualify that child from any benefits s/he may otherwise be entitled to, can be an important part of estate planning.
In general, the “wholly discretionary trust” is the most effective tool to accomplish the objectives of parents and grandparents who wish to leave assets to benefit a special needs child or grandchild, but not disqualify the child from benefit programs.
A wholly discretionary trust is a trust where the trustee has absolute discretion to make such, any, or no distributions to or for the benefit of the child beneficiary. Under Ohio law, if the beneficiary child does not have any enforceable right to compel the trustee to make distributions from the trust to the child or for the child’s benefit, neither does anyone else. The assets in such a trust do not count as “available resources” for purposes of the child’s qualification for any of a variety of programs. Sometimes it is necessary to add specific language prohibiting distributions for specific purposes. Great care must be taken in drafting these trusts, and they must be custom tailored to each client’s needs.
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You may learn that few lawyers are willing to draft wholly discretionary trusts. The Law office of John C. Grundy has the experience needed to draft a special needs trust for your child or grandchild. Our work with special education, and the experience we have can assist you in this area of law. For more information please contact us today at 330-637-9030.