Special Needs Trusts

Special Needs Trusts (or SNTs) allow you to benefit someone with special needs without disqualifying them for governmental benefits. Federal laws allow special needs beneficiaries to obtain benefits from a carefully crafted trust without defeating eligibility for government benefits. Under means-tested benefit programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), disabled individuals can only qualify for benefits if they have no more than $2,000 in countable assets. Special needs trusts allow disabled beneficiaries to receive the benefit of trust assets without disqualifying those beneficiaries from receiving means-tested benefits. With a properly drafted special needs trust, trust assets can be used to pay for expenses that are not covered by means-tested governmental benefit programs without displacing the governmental benefits that the beneficiary would otherwise be eligible to receive. Special needs trusts may be established using assets of family members or other third parties (third-party special needs trusts) or using the assets of the disabled beneficiary herself (first-party special needs trusts). These types of trusts require very particularized planning. Jordan Alford has worked with many clients to accomplish clients’ goals pertaining to protecting governmental benefits.