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Special Needs Trust Attorney in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

As a parent, drafting an estate plan - will or trust - allows you to protect your children, leave funds and assets for them, and ensure that they are properly cared for. However, for children with special needs, receiving such lump-sum payments as inheritance can affect their eligibility for public assistance. Thankfully, a special needs trust allows you to leave assets and funds behind for your disabled child while ensuring that they remain eligible for government assistance and other public benefits.

If you need proper guidance when establishing a special needs trust for your disabled child, consulting with an experienced Pennsylvania estate planning attorney is crucial. At the Law Offices of Kelton M. Burgess, LLC, we have the knowledge, resources, and diligence to advise and guide clients in estate planning-related matters, including special needs trusts. Our trusted attorneys can evaluate your unique needs and enlighten you about your various options. Also, our team can help you draft the special needs trust and other necessary estate planning documents you need to protect your child’s financial future.

The Law Offices of Kelton M. Burgess, LLC proudly serves individuals and families across Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Greater Pittsburgh Area, and surrounding counties.

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What Is a Special Needs Trust?

A special needs trust is a fiduciary relationship and legal arrangement that allows an individual who is physically disabled, mentally incapacitated, or chronically ill to receive additional income without affecting their eligibility for government assistance and other public disability benefits.

Through a special needs trust, you can leave behind assets and funds for your children with special needs while making sure that they still qualify for Supplemental Security Income, disability benefits provided by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other public benefits.

The Benefits of a Special Needs Trust

The purpose of a special needs trust is to improve the beneficiary’s quality of life by making the maximum amount of resources available to them. Here are some benefits of special needs trust:

  • Allows you to leave behind assets to support the disabled person when you’re gone

  • Preserve eligibility for Medicaid (which pays for food, medical care, and shelter)

  • Allows you to choose a successor trustee to manage assets, property, finances, and investments put in the trust

  • Preserve eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (government benefits for disabled persons)

  • Preserve eligibility for government assistance

  • Protect property and assets from creditors or division of property in a divorce

  • Helps preserve family wealth

Essentially, the special needs trust can make suitable provisions for other additional needs to improve the person’s quality of life. Any asset and funds placed in the trust can be used for specific needs that are not covered by government benefits, such as entertainment, travel, and education. An experienced attorney can enlighten you about how to qualify for a special needs trust and guide you through the process of establishing one.

Who Qualifies for a Special Needs Trust?

When creating a special needs trust, you can choose from any of the options below:

First-Party Special Needs Trusts

This is “self-settled” trust. A first-party special needs trust is used when a disabled person inherits assets or money or receives a court settlement. A person with no prior disability but later becomes disabled may be able to create this type of trust.

Third-Party Special Needs Trusts

A third-party special needs trust is often established by a person who is making adequate plans in advance for a loved one with special needs. Any other person apart from the beneficiary – including the parent, grandparent, or siblings of the disabled child – may be able to create a third-party special needs trust.

Who Can Benefit From a Special Needs Trust?

The following individuals may be able to benefit from a special needs trust, including:

  • A person who is physically or mentally incapacitated

  • A person who is unable to manage their own finances

  • A person who may need benefits later in life

  • A person who is chronically ill

  • A person with temporary special needs

  • A person with permanent, ongoing special needs

  • A person who receives limited payments through SSDI or Medicare even though they are eligible

A skilled attorney can determine your eligibility for a special needs trust and enlighten you about other possible options, including ABLE accounts.

What Is an ABLE Account?

An ABLE account is a tax-advantaged savings account that may be established for disabled people and their loved ones. Here are some important provisions of the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (ABLE Act):

  • The beneficiary of the account owns the account and may be considered the account owner.

  • Any income earned using the ABLE account is non-taxable.

  • Any person can contribute to the account, including the account beneficiary, friends, family members, siblings, or through a special needs trust.

  • Any amount contributed to the account will not be tax-deductible for federal tax purposes.

  • Contributions to the account must be made using post-taxed dollars.

A knowledgeable attorney can enlighten you about the similarities and differences between Special needs trusts and ABLE accounts and determine which one is right for your family.

Which One Is Right for Your Family?

Both ABLE accounts and special needs trusts offer similar benefits. However, they differ in a couple of ways. Here are some things to consider before you select one over the other:

Age: To qualify for an ABLE account, your child must have lived with their disability since they were at least 26 years old. A special needs trust may be the ideal option for a child that becomes incapacitated later in life.

Taxes: ABLE accounts are tax-free and have no time limit. Conversely, funds used to create a special needs trust are tax-deductible and unavailable to creditors. However, if new money isn’t paid out to the beneficiary on time, you can run into high trust tax rates.

Legacy: Once the owner of an ABLE account dies, the government will take over any funds left in the account. Conversely, your disabled child can pass their special needs trust onto their offspring.

An experienced lawyer can determine whether to create special needs trusts or ABLE accounts and help you navigate crucial decisions.

Work With an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Special needs trusts and ABLE accounts are among the possible options to help parents set aside assets and funds for their disabled adult children without affecting their eligibility for government benefits. However, you must understand the benefits of both options and how they work. Therefore, when you want to set up a trust for your special needs child, you must speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to evaluate your possible options and help decide the right one that best fits your unique needs.

At the Law Offices of Kelton M. Burgess, LLC, we are dedicated to offering knowledgeable legal guidance and reliable advocacy to clients in the legal matters of estate planning. As your attorney, we can work to understand your unique situation and explore your available options.

Whether you are trying to set up a special needs trust or ABLE account, our trusted team can guide you through every stage of the legal process. Also, we will outline a strategic plan to protect your family, assets, and child’s future and help you achieve your goals of transferring assets to your loved ones when you’re gone.

Special Needs Trust Attorney Serving Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

If you need assistance when drafting a trust for a child with special needs, contact the Law Offices of Kelton M. Burgess, LLC, today to schedule a simple consultation. Our dedicated team has the comprehensive legal counsel and brilliant advocacy you need to make informed decisions in your estate planning matters. We’re proud to serve clients across Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Greater Pittsburgh Area, and surrounding counties.