Special Needs Trusts

Providing for a Disabled Family Member

The primary purpose of a special needs trust is to provide for the needs of an individual without disrupting that person's eligibility for Medicaid and Social Security and other government benefits. The experienced supplemental benefits trust attorneys of Cushing & Dolan, P.C., can structure the trust to make sure your loved one has the provisions necessary to maintain his or her quality of life without losing government benefits.

We provide comprehensive estate planning services to families in Greater Boston, and throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Arrange for a free consultation today about creating a special needs trust.

Creating a Special Needs Trust

A special needs trust, also known as a supplemental needs trust, is established on behalf of a person who is mentally or physically incapacitated under the Social Security Administration's definition of disability. It is most commonly created for an adult child with mental or physical disabilities to preserve eligibility for Medicaid (MassHealth), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Assets in a special needs trust are distributed to the beneficiary at the discretion of a trustee. The parents can designate themselves as the trustees, as well as a successor trustee in the event they die before the beneficiary. The trust cannot pay for basic needs, which are covered by government benefits and programs. The trustee can authorize expenditures for such things as:

    • Vacations, summer camp and travel
    • Movies, restaurant meals and social outings
    • Sporting goods, cosmetics and other quality-of-life items
    • Medical treatments not covered by benefits programs
    • Hiring an attorney

There are two main types of special needs trusts:

    • A Self-Settled Special Needs Trust preserves assets of the disabled person such as an inheritance or proceeds from a personal injury settlement. Without the trust, the person would have to spend all personal assets to qualify for government programs. This type of trust is the so-called (D)(4)(A) Trust.
    • A Third-Party Settled Trust is funded by someone other than the individual with disabilities. This type of trust does not have payback provisions.

Boston Trust Attorneys

We know the strategies and pitfalls of special needs planning. Call Cushing & Dolan at 617-523-1555 or contact us online. Our lawyers offer a free consultation, with seven convenient locations in Boston and surrounding counties.