As the parent of a special needs child in Illinois, you lead a full and busy life. Depending on the nature and severity of your child’s disability, caring for him or her may take nearly all of your time. You may sometimes worry and wonder about who will provide this needed care should (s)he outlive you.
Establishing a special needs trust for your child’s benefit may very well set your mind at ease regarding his or her present and future care. When your attorney helps you set up this type of trust, you name your child as beneficiary and can name yourself as the trustee, designate the person, facility or agency who will continue caring for him or her after your death, and put all sorts of assets into it, including the following:
- Any governmental benefits (s)he receives such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid
- Any money or assets (s)he receives via inheritance
- Any money (s)he receives from a lawsuit settlement
- Any other money or income-producing assets you wish to include
Current and future benefits
Since the trust owns all the trust assets and your child owns none of them himself or herself, (s)he remains eligible not only for the governmental benefits (s)he currently receives, but also those for which (s)he may qualify in the future. Be sure to specify in the trust document all the indirect benefits or subsidies (s)he receives now, including educational, vocational, employment, housing, etc. Also be sure to appoint a successor trustee to manage and distribute the trust’s assets should you become incapacitated or after you die.
The trust assets and/or the income they produce cover the cost of your child’s care and you, as trustee, simply distribute those monies on his or her behalf. Your successor trustee will continue to do this throughout your child’s lifetime, thus giving you peace of mind knowing that (s)he will always have the things (s)he needs, including the following:
- Basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing
- Medical and dental care whenever needed
- Monthly allowance if appropriate
- Vacations and recreational activities as appropriate
Your child’s special needs trust is a win-win for both you and him or her. It guarantees that the money will be there to care for him or her even when you are not.