Creating a special needs trust (SNT) is not only a legal process, it also can provide direction for future of your loved one with a disability or special needs. To choose the right attorney for the job, you’ll need to know whether he or she has the expertise and awareness to craft an SNT for your specific needs. Bring the following questions to your consultation, to make sure you’re in the right hands.

What's your experience in this area?
It is very important to work with an attorney who specifically and regularly creates SNTs. No two situations are the same, and so a qualified SN attorney with a deep understanding of all the ins and outs is a must.

Are my loved one’s government benefits in danger?
Bring a list of all the government benefits your loved one currently qualifies for and think ahead about what he or she might qualify for in the future. Then, your special needs attorney can help you understand whether an SNT is recommended.

Have you dealt with Medicaid qualification and recapture?
First party and pooled trusts are subject to Medicaid recapture, upon the death of the trust beneficiary, while third party trusts are not. Alternatives to trusts include ABLE accounts and Powers of Attorney. Your attorney should have an understanding of all the benefits of each type of SNT and alternatives, so he or she can help you decide how to move forward.

How will you design the plan for my specific situation?
Explain the future goals you and your loved one have identified to the attorney and provide a list of what planning steps already have been completed. Once the attorney has this detailed picture, he or she will be able to come up with a plan that’s customized just for your loved one.

How often will you revisit my SNT?
The actual trust documents should be reviewed every five years to make sure the laws haven't changed or the documents haven't become outdated. If events in your life change, especially if you move from state to state, you also will want to make updates, accordingly. You may personally want to revisit your SNT annually, just to make sure everything is in order.

Action steps:

  • Talk to a financial advisor to get started
  • Identify your and your loved one’s goals
  • Make a list of all your assets
  • Find a special needs attorney
  • Bring your list of questions to your consultation

Learn more:

Beneficiaries with Disabilities – What You Need to Know
Types of Special Needs Trusts (SNTs)
How to Talk to My Family About Our Special Needs Trust (SNT)
Setting up a Special Needs Trust (SNT)

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