Special Needs Trusts Lawyers in Texas: We Provide Clients with Estate Planning Strategies that Benefit Those with Special Needs

Almost everyone across the state of Texas has an estate of some kind, but very few have taken the extra steps to establish strong, legally valid estate planning measures. For those who care for a family member with disabilities, estate planning should be included as one of the essential elements of your special needs planning.

Many of us assume that we will one day find the time to draft our Last Will and Testament, name a power of attorney, determine guardianship, or fund a trust for our beneficiaries. But we keep putting it off until later, believing we have plenty of time.

Eventually, time runs out.

To better ensure that your family member with special needs or your disabled children has financial security in the uncertain future, it is important to begin estate planning today.

Various law firms provide clients with services pertaining to the creation of valid estate plans. At Shields Law Firm, our estate planning focuses on families who support a child with special needs or another individual member of the family who has a disability. A special needs trusts lawyer at our law office can provide knowledgeable advice in the creation of a will, naming legal guardianship, Medicaid considerations, education opportunities, and the creation of a special needs trust.

These tasks may sound daunting, but they can go a long way to safeguarding your loved one’s future. To speak with a lawyer, please contact our office today.

What is a Special Needs Trust?

Also referred to as a supplemental needs trust, a special needs trust is a legal tool to hold assets to benefit a person with special needs or disabilities. Based on how the trust is drafted, it can also protect your loved one’s eligibility to receive public benefits like Social Security, Medicaid assistance, and other programs which can provide services or long-term care.

This type of trust is tailored to a person with special needs and designed to manage assets for that person’s benefit while maximizing legal protections.

The trust assets are distributed by a trustee who is legally required to act in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. While you are alive, you may be the trustee of the special needs trust you have created. After your passing, another person becomes the successor trustee.

Is it Necessary to Establish a Special Needs Trust?

Failure to begin estate planning or create a special needs trust often means that your loved one will lose public benefits, and grandparents or other family members will incur the added cost and stress of their newfound responsibilities of managing and closing your estate.

If you choose not to plan, the government will, unfortunately, impose its own plan. The rules set out by the state will mandate a government plan for your estate and the care of your loved one.

Failing to create a plan means that you are forfeiting your own (or your loved ones) priorities for the government’s priorities. The time to plan and formalize your wishes is today. For help with that, please contact an attorney experienced in matters of special needs law.

What Are the Different Types of Supplemental Needs Trusts?

1) First Party Trust

A first-party special needs trust is established with funds from the person with a disability for the sole benefit of that individual. They act as both beneficiary and grantor.

2) Third-Party Trust

A third-party trust holds assets belonging to other people who want to help the person who is disabled. The third-party trust is most often used by parents and other parties to assist a person with special needs.

Third-party trusts can hold any kind of asset belonging to the family member or other individual, including property, money, and types of investments. The third-party trust functions like a first-party trust in that the assets held in the trust do not affect the beneficiary’s access to Social Security income. The assets can be used to pay for the beneficiary’s supplemental needs beyond those covered by government benefits, including medical expenses.

3) Pooled Trust

Pooled trusts are managed by a charity and allow beneficiaries to pool their resources for investment purposes. Some of the appealing factors for a pooled trust are diversification of investments, often meaning access to professional trustees who are well-versed in evolving benefit changes.

If the Person with Disabilities Already Receives Government Benefits, is a Trust Still Necessary?

An attorney at Shields Law Firm will support you in determining eligibility and applying for disability benefits from government programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). However, while these programs are useful, they do have their limitations. SSI, for example, only pays out a small amount of money each month, and it can be difficult to qualify for.

To ensure that your child with special needs has everything they require, it is best to include a trust in your special needs planning along with the applications for government programs.

Contact Our Law Office to Schedule a Consultation with a Special Needs Trust Attorney

The trust lawyers of Shields Law Firm have years of experience assisting Texas families with the creation of special needs trusts and helping trustees understand their role in distributing trust funds.

For help with your special needs planning, please reach out to our legal team today to schedule a case evaluation. We understand that your children, as well as any other loved one with disabilities, are near and dear to you, so we strive to provide compassionate, knowledgeable guidance as we help you determine the right course of action that fits your needs. Contact us today.