If you have a minor or adult child with a disability, you no doubt have concerns about how to provide financially for your child now and after you die. Like other Florida parents, you may have heard about special needs trusts and how they can help in these situations. Understanding how these trusts, also referred to as supplemental care trusts, work is important for you.

The Pacer Center is a resource for families with disabled children. It explains that when properly set up, a special needs trust gives you a way to transfer money to your child without risking your child losing important government benefits. Disabled persons can be eligible to claim Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid, benefits that you would want to retain. One critical way to ensure this is to set up the trust, not your child, as the trust beneficiary.

A special needs trust can be set up to become effective after you die or while you are still alive. It can be used to pay for rehabilitation, education, some home health needs and transportation. It cannot be used to pay for everyday living expenses such as housing, utilities or food. Under no circumstances can cash be given directly to your child.

Life insurance, retirement funds, real property, Social Security survivor benefits and military benefits can all be used to fund a special needs trust. Inheritances or gifts from others can also be used in the trust. This information is not intended to provide legal advice but general information about special needs trusts for disabled children in Florida.

Luis E. Barreto