Should a special needs trust be part of your estate plan?

The future is unpredictable, but there are things that you can do that will allow you to face the uncertain things ahead of you with confidence. While you cannot know with certainty what will happen in the months and years ahead, having an estate plan provides you the opportunity to decide what happens to your wealth and property after your passing. One of the goals you may have for your Illinois estate is the care of another person, such as a loved one with special needs. 

Individuals with special needs are often unable to care for themselves and provide for their own financial needs. They may rely on the support of others, including family members. If you currently care for a loved one who is unable to care for himself or herself long-term, you can ensure financial provision for that individual through a special needs trust. This estate planning tool is useful for ensuring that other parties use your assets as intended long after you pass.  

The benefits of a special needs trust 

If you are caring for a loved one who has special needs, it is likely because he or she cannot earn a sufficient income or handle financial responsibilities. This is one of the primary reasons why it is not ideal to pass funds to a special needs person directly through a will. While this will transfer assets as you want, it could subject the recipient to tax penalties, and he or she may not be able to effectively manage funds. However, a special needs trust allows you to set aside and protect assets you’ve designated for a certain individual. 

Assets held in a trust are not subject to probate. You can also name a person to act as the trustee, which is the person who will oversee the trust and the distribution of trust assets. Trust assets will not impact eligibility for government benefits, and these funds can provide for needs not covered by that support, such as clothing or education. 

A complete estate plan 

The details of your estate plan depend on your individual goals and objectives for the future. If you believe that a special needs trust could be a beneficial addition to your current long-term strategy, you will benefit from taking quick action to establish this. Taking this step could ensure care and provision for your loved one for years to come. 


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The Law Office of William C. Wombacher

Local: 309-674-8125
Fax: 309-674-8149

Commerce Bank Building
416 Main Street Suite 700
Peoria, IL 61602
NELF | National Elder Law Foundation
CAP | Council of Advanced Practitioners | NAELA | National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.
Illinois State Bar Association