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Special Needs Trusts


A special needs trust is a type of trust that is designed to hold, administer, and distribute assets and property for a disabled individual in a manner that helps to maintain the disabled individual’s eligibility or potential eligibility for “means-tested” benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. In addition to protecting SSI and Medicaid, a special needs trust also serves as a tool for holding, investing, and administering assets for individuals who may not be capable of managing such property or assets themselves. Every disabled individual is different, and each family’s circumstances and situation are unique. Consequently, the planning required for each disabled individual must be tailored to meet the specific needs of that person. 


Broadly speaking, there are two types of special needs trusts: (1) third-party special needs trusts, which are funded by parents, grandparents, or other family members for the disabled individual with property or assets that never belonged to the disabled individual, and (2) first-party special needs trusts, which are generally set up with assets, property, or court settlements that belong to the disabled individual, and can be established by the disabled individual, a parent, grandparent, guardian, or court. The requirements for these two categories of special needs trusts vary significantly, and it is important to work with an attorney or other professional who has considerable experience in the establishment and administration of both third-party and first-party special needs trusts when planning for a disabled individual.


At Stebler & Sulak, PLLC, we are passionate about special needs trust planning, and we have considerable experience not only with the drafting and establishment of special needs trusts, but also with the often complex & challenging work involved in special needs trust administration. It is extremely helpful, but not absolutely required, that you complete our special needs trust questionnaire before your appointment to discuss your needs.


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