Having a child with a disability is a special source of concern for many, especially when faced with the dilemma of passing away and leaving no one to care for that child. Many people want to plan for their child’s financial future.

However, this must be done carefully so as not to put into jeopardy your child’s right to receive social security income and other aid benefits. To avoid encountering these problems, you can set up a special needs trust in your will.

A special needs trust is a trust designed for beneficiaries with physical and/or mental disabilities. A special needs trust allows assets to be used for your disabled child’s benefit, while still allowing your child to receive government benefits for his/her essential needs.

In addition to preserving governmental benefits, a special needs trust may also be chosen instead of ordinary transfers because of its many administrative advantages. You can name a trustee who is tasked to manage the assets, since the intended beneficiary lacks the legal capacity to handle his or her own financial affairs.

In fact, it must be specified in creating the special needs trust that your child shall not have any personal access to the special needs trust assets. This means that no ATM card or checks or any access via a cell phone or computer can be given.

A special needs trust is commonly run by trustees who are family members or employed by companies who specialize in these trusts.  Since it is intended for the long-term welfare of your child, great caution and care should be taken to ensure the efficient management of trust assets.

Coverage of Special Needs Trust

A special needs trust is authorized to cover many aspects of your child’s life.  it is intended to supplement your child’s lifestyle.  Here are some of the categories a special needs trust can cover.


  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Extraordinary or experimental medical services
  • Dental care
  • Medical equipment
  • Eyeglasses
  • Annual checkups
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Over-the-counter medications and vitamins


  • One vehicle
  • Vehicle maintenance and supplies
  • Vehicle insurance premiums
  • Gasoline


  • Materials for hobbies
  • Tickets for recreational or cultural events
  • Musical instruments and music lessons
  • Cosmetics
  • Travel and vacations
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Non-food groceries and sundries
  • Clothing
  • Exercise equipment, athletic training or competitions
  • Fitness club membership
  • Pets—service animal and supplies, veterinary services
  • Entertainment
  • Visits to friends
  • Memberships to clubs
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • E-book fees
  • Personal care attendant or escort
  • Stationery and stamps


  • Furnishings
  • Computer or augmentative communication devices
  • Electronic equipment
  • Cable television
  • Cell phone
  • Internet service
  • Home security alarm and monitoring service
  • Yard service and maintenance
  • Linens, towels and bedding
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Umbrella liability insurance


  • Life insurance premiums
  • Professional services
  • Costs of attending or participating in meetings, conferences, seminars or training sessions, tuition and expenses associated with all types of technical degree programs and higher education

Advantages of Special Needs Trusts

As mentioned above, the primary advantage of a special needs trust is to keep the beneficiary eligible for governmental programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid benefits. This means that your child will have money to pay for services and care over and above what the government provides.

Consultation With an Attorney to Establish a Trust

Creating a special needs trust on your own would be very tricky.  It is not a “typical” trust in its wording and implementation.  You may need the services of an attorney.

You would need an attorney who has the expertise in creating special needs trusts to ensure that the trust is valid and complies with legal requirements. If you want to protect the future of your disabled child, make an appointment to see me. I have extensive experience in creating these trusts and can help you every step of the way.