MARCH 1, 2004 VOLUME 11, NUMBER 35
When a recipient of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid benefits receives money, the benefits may be reduced or even terminated. That is why most parents of children with a disability should consider establishing a "special needs" trust to handle any inheritance or gifts. Making the decision to establish such a trust is not enough, though—the parents must carefully select a trustee, and the trustee must understand the unique problems associated with administering a special needs trust.
Some special needs trusts are funded not with gifts or inheritances, but with the beneficiary’s own money. An SSI/Medicaid recipient might have received a settlement from a personal injury lawsuit, for instance, or a cash inheritance from a relative who did not plan carefully. The trustee of that kind of special needs trust must also understand the complicated rules governing public benefits and special needs trusts.
Parents, trustees and interested family members should know the limitations and requirements for special needs trusts, but there is little help in the community to provide them with the necessary information. Case managers, advocates and others working in the disability community may have tried unsuccessfully to locate resources to enhance their own understanding of the obligations and opportunities.
To help provide more information about special needs trusts, the law firm of Fleming & Curti, PLC, has scheduled its first-ever training session on administration of special needs trusts. The free two-hour seminar will be held on the morning of April 19, 2004, near the Fleming & Curti offices in downtown Tucson. Attendance will be limited by the space available, and reservations are required.
The session will address:
-Basic eligibility rules for SSI and Medicaid (in Arizona, AHCCCS / ALTCS).
-The key difference between special needs trusts established with the beneficiary’s own money and those set up by family members for inheritance purposes.
-Rules for trust administration, including accounting and tax requirements.
-Permissible trust expenditures and those which disrupt government benefits.
-Techniques for using special needs trusts to provide housing, food, and necessities of life for the trust beneficiary.
Parents and other family members considering establishment of a special needs trust, family members of individuals for whom a special needs trust has been set up, family and professional trustees and case managers should all consider attending. Reservations can be made by calling Bonnie at the Fleming & Curti office (520-622-0400).