Maryland Special Needs Planning & Trusts

Maryland Special Needs Planning & Trusts Practice by Pathfinder Law Group

As the loved one of a child with special needs, you're well-acquainted with the unique joys and challenges this journey brings. But you also know that certain areas-including legal ones-are very tricky when caring for someone with special needs.

If you want to provide the best possible care, you need legal experts with experience in Maryland Special Needs Planning & Trusts. They can create a plan to move forward with the best interest of your loved one with special needs at heart.

What is 'Maryland Special Needs Planning & Trusts'?

You want to leave a safety net behind for your loved one, but traditional inheritance methods can inadvertently disqualify them from essential government benefits, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Individuals with special needs also often need supplemental care beyond what those programs provide. Maryland Special Needs Planning & Trusts solves this problem.

Special Needs Planning allows parents and loved ones who care for children with special needs to coordinate, support, and nourish their loved one's future. Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) are specifically designed to allow your loved one to have access to funds and property, while receiving these government benefits. Special Needs Planning, which often includes creating trusts, protects the benefits that an individual with special needs requires to live a healthy and happy life.

Special Needs Planning is not just important, it is essential. Without the right plan that truly addresses the needs of someone with a disability, they may lose the services they need to thrive in their daily lives.

Maryland Special Needs Planning & Trusts should be handled by experts who have in-depth knowledge of the laws and regulations in Maryland and treat every client with consideration, compassion, and care. That is what you will get with PathFinder Law Group.

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Benefits of Maryland Special Needs Trusts and Planning

Special Needs Planning often involves creating a Special Needs Trust (SNT), also referred to as a Supplemental Needs Trust. Special Needs Planning is a proactive and empowering step towards securing your loved one's future, allowing them to maintain a high quality of life and continue to have access to the resources they need. One of the biggest advantages of an SNT is its ability to protect your loved one's eligibility for government assistance programs such as Medicaid and SSI.

An SNT provides a structured system to manage assets effectively and responsibly. Your loved one benefits from the trust assets as the trustee uses them for a wide variety of needs that are not typically covered by public assistance. These can include:

  • Education expenses;
  • Out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses;
  • Personal care attendants;
  • Physical rehabilitation;
  • Assistive technology;
  • Home furnishings;
  • Transportation and maintenance of personal vehicles; and,
  • Recreation, vacations, and entertainment.

Maryland Special Needs Planning & Trusts requires specialized knowledge and a deep understanding of public assistance programs to create a trust that prevents the loss of those benefits. An attorney experienced in Maryland Special Needs Planning & Trusts can ensure that the trust is established correctly. They can provide valuable guidance on choosing a trustee, funding the trust, and managing it over time.

Other Examples of Special Needs Planning

Special Needs Planning does not just involve creating trusts. It also involves taking legal, financial, and personal considerations into account. The planning might encompass a broad range of strategies including:

  • Creation of a Special Needs Trust;
  • Making provisions in a Will;
  • Assigning guardianship or having guardianship appointed;
  • Planning for housing; and,
  • Identifying suitable education opportunities.

The goal is for the beneficiary to be provided for-even after their parents or caregivers are no longer able to support them.

How a Special Needs Trust Works

A Special Needs Trust (SNT) operates much like a safety deposit box. As the person establishing the trust, you-or the legal entity you designate-will transfer assets into the trust. These assets are then managed by a trustee. The trustee's job is to use the trust's assets to pay for your loved one's supplementary needs (things that aren't covered by public assistance programs). The key point to remember is that these disbursements should supplement, not replace, the benefits received from public assistance programs.

In this way, an SNT ensures your loved one can continue to qualify for public benefits while also enjoying a higher quality of life.

Types of Special Needs Trusts

Not all Special Needs Trusts are created equal. There are 3 types of Special Needs Trusts in Maryland:

(1) First-Party Special Needs Trust (Self-Settled Trust)

This type of SNT is funded with the assets of the person with special needs-perhaps from an inheritance, a personal injury settlement, or accumulated wealth. The trust is created to maintain the individual's eligibility for public assistance programs despite their own assets. This type of trust has a "payback" provision. When the beneficiary passes away, if there are any funds remaining in the trust, they must first be used to reimburse the State for Medicaid benefits received during the beneficiary's lifetime. Only after this reimbursement can the remaining funds be distributed to other heirs or beneficiaries.

(2) Third-Party Special Needs Trust

Unlike the first-party SNT, this trust is created and funded by someone other than the individual with special needs-often a parent or grandparent. Like the First-Party Special Needs Trust, these trusts also allow the beneficiary to maintain eligibility for public assistance programs. There is also no "payback" provision in a third-party SNT. This means that after the passing of the beneficiary, any remaining trust assets can be distributed to other family members or beneficiaries without first reimbursing the state.

(3) Pooled Special Needs Trust

A pooled trust is a type of SNT managed by a non-profit organization. The assets of many individuals are "pooled" together for investment purposes, yet each beneficiary has their own account. Pooled trusts can be funded with assets from either the individual with special needs (like a first-party trust) or from third parties (like a third-party trust). Similar to a first-party trust, there is typically a "payback" provision for those accounts funded with the beneficiary's assets.

How to Set Up a Special Needs Trust

Setting up a Special Needs Trust involves several key steps, each playing an essential role in Special Needs Planning. Here's a basic overview:

Step 1: Designate Your Beneficiary

The beneficiary is your loved one with special needs.

Step 2: Choose a Trustee

The trustee is the person (or entity) responsible for managing the assets on the beneficiary's behalf.

Step 3: Write Up and Sign Your Trust Documents

With the help of an attorney, you will draft the legal documents that establish the trust. These documents set out the trust's terms, including the trustee's powers and the purposes for which trust assets can be used.

Step 4: Fund the Special Needs Trust

Once the trust is established, it needs to be funded with assets. Possible assets can include cash, real estate, and/or stocks.

How to Choose the Right Trustee

Choosing a trustee for your Special Needs Trust is a critical decision that requires careful consideration. Choose someone reliable, trustworthy, and capable of handling financial matters effectively. They should also have a good understanding of your loved one's needs and best interests.

In many cases, parents choose a close family member or friend who knows the beneficiary well. However, in some situations, it might be better to choose a professional trustee, such as a lawyer or trust company.

When Should I Visit a Special Needs Planning & Trusts Attorney?

Far too many people do not plan ahead and do not lay the groundwork that is needed for their loved one with special needs. When this is avoided or ignored, it often comes at the expense of your loved one. An individual with special needs cannot care for themselves as others can. It is up to you to find the right experts to create a proper plan. The truth is that it is never too early to meet with a Special Needs Planning attorney.

Here Are a Few Examples of Scenarios Where You Should Consult With an Attorney:

You want to leave funds for your loved one with special needs, but do not want them to lose important government benefits;

  • You want to provide a sound, financial future for your loved one;
  • You want to make sure a specific care plan is in place to care for your loved one;
  • Your loved one with special needs has plans and desires that require planning; and,
  • You know that someday, you will not be around to help your loved one meet their goals.

How a Special Needs Planning Lawyer Can Help

Working with a lawyer who specializes in Maryland Special Needs Planning & Trusts is a smart decision when navigating this complex legal landscape. Their specific expertise can be invaluable in many ways-beginning with establishing a Special Needs Plan that is specific to your unique situation. A lawyer can help you understand the legal requirements and implications of different types of trusts and estate plans and guide you in making the right decisions for your loved one. They can establish an SNT in accordance with federal and state laws, ensuring that the trust's establishment doesn't affect your loved one's eligibility for public assistance programs.

How PathFinder Law Group Can Help

We put our clients first: Your needs and concerns take center stage. We recognize that each case involving Special Needs Trusts and Planning is distinctive and we work to address your unique needs.

We employ a comprehensive strategy: Our approach is all-encompassing. We evaluate every detail of your situation to create the most suitable action plan.

We provide continuous assistance: We supply ongoing legal aid once your special needs trust is established. We assist you in making knowledgeable decisions and dealing with any legal challenges that may surface.

PathFinder Law Group creates unique Special Needs Plans and Trusts that truly make an impact, ensuring the protection of your loved one and providing you with peace of mind.

PathFinder Law Group has an established success record in Special Needs Planning and Trusts in Maryland. Allow us to walk with you through this process of securing your loved one's future and giving you peace of mind.

Let PathFinder Law Group Help

We know how important your loved one's future is.

Special Needs Planning and Trusts requires exceptional care and careful attention to detail. Let the best Special Needs Planning law firm in Maryland help you and your loved one today!

Contact PathFinder Law Group today, or call us at (443) 579-4529 for a free consultation.

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Maryland Special Needs Planning & Trusts F.A.Q.

When do the benefits of a Special Needs Trust typically end?

  • The benefits of a Special Needs Trust typically end when the beneficiary passes away or if the trust funds are fully depleted. When the beneficiary passes away, remaining funds in the trust are sometimes used to repay the state for Medicaid benefits received, especially in a First-Party Special Needs Trust, with any remaining balance distributed as per the terms of the trust agreement.

Is a Special Needs Trust a revocable trust?

  • Whether a Special Needs Trust is revocable or irrevocable depends on the type of trust.
  • A Third-Party Special Needs Trust, which is set up by someone other than the beneficiary and funded with their assets, is usually irrevocable to protect the assets from the beneficiary's creditors.
  • A First-Party Special Needs Trust, funded with the beneficiary's own assets, is typically irrevocable in order to maintain the beneficiary's eligibility for public assistance programs.

"Can I act as the trustee of a Special Needs Trust?"

  • Yes, however, it's important to carefully consider the responsibilities and time commitment of this role, as well as the potential for conflict of interest and the need for a successor trustee in the event of your incapacity or death.

Are Special Needs Trusts subject to taxation?

  • Special Needs Trusts, like other types of trusts, are subject to taxation.
  • How much they are taxed can depend on several factors, such as the type of trust (First-Party or Third-Party), what the trust is used for, and the specific tax laws. It's important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney or tax advisor for precise information.

"Can I dissolve a Special Needs Trust?"

  • Yes, a Special Needs Trust can be dissolved, but the process and consequences depend on the type of trust and its specific terms.
  • Dissolving a Special Needs Trust prematurely may have serious implications, like making the beneficiary ineligible for specific public benefits, so it's important to seek legal advice before taking this step.

What is an estate plan?

  • An estate plan serves as a strategic roadmap for the distribution of your assets after your passing. It's designed to ensure that your legacy is preserved through tax minimization strategies and asset protection measures.

Do you still have questions? PathFinder Law Group is here to help. Contact PathFinder Law Group today, or call us at (443) 579-4529 for a free consultation.