Essential Tips for Estate Planning with Special Needs Beneficiaries

a happy family standing on the train

If there’s one thing you should learn from reading this article it’s that I strongly discourage people from establishing custodial accounts or leaving cash outright to beneficiaries with disabilities. If you do, the outright distribution of assets may cause unintended problems for the beneficiary. For example, when the assets of an individual with special needs exceed the governmental financial resource limits, the individual may be disqualified from both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.  

woman on black folding wheelchair
Photo by Judita Tamošiūnaitė on

A more appropriate way to pass an inheritance to a special needs beneficiary is to utilize a Supplemental Needs Trust.  A Supplemental Needs Trust containing certain provisions may be established to administer and distribute Trust assets to a beneficiary with special needs without otherwise disqualifying them from governmental benefits. 

women in yoga class
Photo by Cliff Booth on

With a properly drafted Supplemental Needs Trust assets in the Trust are not counted for the purpose of determining eligibility for governmental benefits. This makes Supplemental Needs Trusts a valuable tool in planning for disabled individuals and their families. The process requires careful consideration of many issues however, and should be approached with care by a qualified professional. If you would like to learn more about Supplemental Needs Trusts, let’s talk about it.

Marc Guertin is the principal at Marc Guertin, Attorney at Law, LLC in North Haven, Connecticut. Visit, call 203-500-0201 or email to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Leave a Reply