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Frequently Asked Questions

  • When to use a Special Needs Trust
    SNTs should be used when an individual with special needs either 1) owns assets that will disqualify them from receiving government benefits or 2) requires assets beyond those supplied by the government to provide a desirable quality of life.
  • Who controls a Special Needs Trust?
    Special needs trusts are controlled by a trustee. Trustees are responsible for ensuring the funds in the trust are used only for specified goods and services that support the individual with special needs.
  • What assets can I place in a Special Needs Trust?
    Special needs trusts can receive both physical and investable assets. Stocks, bonds, cash equivalents, real estate, life insurance policies, and collectibles can all be received by a special needs trust.
  • What is a Special Needs Trust?
    A special needs trust is a legal entity created for the benefit of individuals with special needs. Because it is distinct and separate from the individual, the SNT can hold property without disqualifying the individual for government benefit programs (SSI, SSDI, Medicaid, Medicare, etc.)
  • Can I have a Special Needs Trust and an ABLE account simultaneously?
    Yes, an individual with special needs can have both an SNT and an ABLE account. In fact, SNTs and ABLE accounts work very well in tandem. For more information, please see our FUNDING STRATEGIES video.
  • Who can be Trustee of a Special Needs Trust?
    A Trustee can be any competent adult person: a parent, sibling, friend, etc. Trustees can also be organizations (commonly called a “Corporate Trustee”) such as a bank, law firm, or trust company.
  • How to create a Special Needs Trust
    Special needs trusts should be created by an attorney familiar with the special needs community as well as government benefit program eligibility. For a list of trusted contacts, please see our PROVIDER LIST.
  • What is the difference between first- and third-party Special Needs Trusts?
    First-party, or “self-settled” trusts, are designed to hold assets the individual with special needs already owns. These include legal settlements in the individual’s name, inheritances prior to the trust formation, or funds in a UTMA/UGMA account. Third-party, or “supplemental” trusts, are designed to hold assets the individual will not take legal possession of. These include proceeds from an insurance policy, inheritances after trust formation, and gifts.
  • Who controls an ABLE account?
    ABLE accounts are controlled by the individual with special needs if they are capable. If the individual lacks the capacity to manage the account themselves, their guardian would control the account.
  • What can I use an ABLE account for?
    ABLE accounts must be used for “Qualified Disability Expenses”. QDEs are broadly defined but include: health expenses, education, housing, transportation, legal fees, financial management, employment training & support, assistive technology, personal support services, funeral & burial expenses, and more.
  • What is an ABLE Account?
    Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts are savings & investment accounts for individuals with special needs. These accounts can hold up to $100,000 worth of investable assets that grow tax-free and do not count against government benefit eligibility.
  • How to create an ABLE account
    ABLE accounts can be created through a financial advisor or through their state sanctioned 529 ABLE provider. For the state of Florida the provider is ABLE UNITED.
  • When to use an ABLE account?
    ABLE accounts should be used by individuals with special needs who require the ability to invest smaller sums of money (less than $100,000) tax-free without jeopardizing government benefit eligibility.
  • What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
    SSI is an income program for the poor, elderly, blind, and disabled who have little/no income or resources. For details about eligibility and support levels please watch our SSI OVERVIEW video.
  • Can I qualify for both SSI & SSDI?
    Yes, it is possible to qualify for both SSI and SSDI based on your financial circumstances; however, in some cases eligibility for both programs might decrease the benefit received.
  • What is Medicare?
    Medicare is the federal health insurance program for individuals 65 years or older, individuals with disabilities, and people with end-stage renal disease. For details about eligibility and support levels please watch our MEDICARE OVERVIEW video.
  • What is Medicaid?
    Medicaid is the “insurer of last resort for the poor, elderly, and disabled. It is also the largest provider of long-term care in nursing, assisted living, and cognitive impairment facilities in the United States. For details about eligibility and support levels please watch our MEDICAID OVERVIEW video.
  • Can I qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare?
    Yes, it is possible to qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare simultaneously.
  • What is Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)?
    SSDI pays benefits to you and certain family members if you have worked long enough and paid social security taxes. For details about eligibility and support levels please watch our SSDI OVERVIEW video.
  • Who can create a Guardianship arrangement?
    Guardianship is a legal process that should be handled by a competent attorney. or a list of trusted contacts, please see our PROVIDER LIST.
  • Who should consider Guardianship?
    Guardianship should be considered for individuals with significant enough special needs that their decision-making skills and ability to self-care are in question.
  • What is Guardianship?
    Guardianship is when a person loses or gives up some of their civil rights to another person to carry out on their behalf.
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