Tampa estate lawyers who have experience with special needs planning are always on the lookout for the most effective ways to protect their clients’ assets and ensure that they get the right level of care necessary to live fulfilling lives. One of the best ways they’ve found to do this is through the use of Medicaid Special Needs Trusts. These trusts are designed to allow special needs individuals who require a high level of care to qualify for Medicaid even if they have too many assets for the allowable limit.
Medicaid Special Needs Trusts provide for supplemental needs of the trust’s beneficiary, such as clothing, housewares, furnishings, education, and just about anything else that is not directly related to the individual’s healthcare. The assets put into a Medicaid Special Needs Trust will not disqualify the beneficiary or cause the beneficiary to be penalized by Medicaid, which is a feature that makes this kind of trust unique from a Revocable Living Trust.
However, a Medicaid Special Needs Trust must be properly established by a qualified and experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of state and federal Medicaid laws. If the trust is set up improperly, the beneficiary may become ineligible for Medicaid benefits and their assets could be at risk. Additionally, the beneficiary of a Medicaid Special Needs Trust has to meet certain criteria in order to qualify for all the protections the trust offers. These qualifications typically consist of the following:
- Have a disability as defined by the Medicaid guidelines and under the age of 65
- The primary beneficiary of the trust must be a citizen of Florida since the state pays out the benefits
- The trust must be created by a guardian or other family member, such as a parent or grandparent, or by a court if necessary
- The trust funds can only be used for the benefit of the person receiving Medicaid benefits
- The funds in the trust must be made up of the beneficiary’s own assets and no one else’s. Assets left to the beneficiary as inheritance or received as part of a court settlement are counted as the individual’s own assets.
The use of a Medicaid Special Needs Trust can be a huge help for individuals with special needs. In order to get the full benefit of the trust, however, it is important to follow the program’s strict guidelines when establishing the trust. If you have questions about Medicaid Special Needs Trusts, or you would like to set up a trust for a loved one with special needs, please contact us at (813) 438-8503 to set up a consultation.