For families with a loved one with special needs, setting aside funds can provide the peace of mind to know that your loved one will be provided for when you can no longer be there to care for them and advocate on their behalf. However, simply leaving them money or property may hurt their chances of receiving government benefits in the future. A Special Needs Trust, also known as a Supplemental Needs Trust, allows families to manage their financial resources to provide for their loved ones — without affecting their eligibility for government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.

Public monetary benefits can provide for a loved one’s most basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing. A Special Needs Trust, on the other hand, helps ensure that your loved one can enjoy a richer quality of life. This trust is specifically designed to meet supplemental needs, including annual check-ups at an independent medical facility, out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses, special dietary needs and a personal care attendant or escort. Other allowable expenditures under the trust include transportation costs, including the purchase of a vehicle, trips and vacations, and funds for entertainment such as movies, shows and sporting events. The funds from a Special Needs Trust are disbursed to a third party, who will ensure that the beneficiary is cared for.