There's A Way, for Those Left Behind, to Find Peace Of Mind!
Understanding a Special Needs Trust

Special Needs Trust: A Complete Guide

Understanding a special needs trust “SNT” is crucial for individuals seeking to protect the financial well-being of loved ones with disabilities. This paramount step safeguards their eligibility for government benefits while providing long-term financial security.  We will explore the significance of specialneeds trusts and how they offer individuals with special needs security and protection.  Join us as we delve into the world of specialneeds trusts and discover the remarkable benefits they provide.

What is a Special Needs Trusts 

A special needs trust, also known as a supplemental needs trust.  It is a legal arrangement designed to protect and manage the assets and income of an individual with disabilities. Its purpose is to meet the unique needs of individuals with special needs. It also ensures their eligibility for government benefits like Medicaid and SSI.

The Benefits of a Special Needs Trust

First and foremost, a SNT preserves eligibility for government benefits. Additionally, it enables individuals with special needs to maintain a higher quality of life by supplementing their government benefits. Moreover, it safeguards assets and income for the long-term care and support of the individual, providing financial security. Both the individual with special needs and their loved ones gain peace of mind, knowing that their financial future is protected.

Types of Special Needs Trusts

Different types of SNT cater to various circumstances.

First Party SNT

This type of trust is a way to keep money safe for someone who has a disability and needs help. This money usually comes from the person with the disability themselves. It can be money they already have or things they’ll get in the future, like an inheritance or a lawsuit settlement. The money in this trust can only be used to help the person with the disability. After they pass away, the trust has to give some of the money back to a program called Medicaid, if they used it. Only after Medicaid gets its share can the rest of the money go to others.

Third Party SNT

  • third-party trust is designed to safeguard funds for someone with a disability. Unlike a first-party trust (where the individual’s own assets are used), the money in a third-party trust comes from someone else, such as a family member or guardian.
  • Parents or guardians often establish this type of trust to ensure that the person with a disability receives necessary support in the future. Importantly, when the beneficiary passes away, the funds do not revert to Medicaid; instead, the trust creator can specify who should receive the remaining money.

Pooled SNT

A pooled trust is like a special bank account that many people with disabilities put their money into. This helps them keep their money safe and even make it grow. The group that takes care of the trust knows how to invest the money to make it more over time. This is helpful because it can be hard to manage money on your own when you have a disability. The trust can also help pay for things that the person with the disability needs, like medical care or things that make life better. When the person passes away, any leftover money in the trust usually helps other people in similar situations.

Steps to Establishing a SpecialNeeds Trust

  1. Find a Professional who Specializes in SNT: You need to talk to a person who knows about the rules and laws for making this kind of trust. They can be a special kind of lawyer or expert.
  2. Decide What You Want: You need to think about what you want the money to be used for. This could be things like medical care, school, or things that make life better.
  3. Pick a Person to Help: You have to choose someone you trust a lot. This person is called a “trustee.” They will be in charge of the money and making sure it’s used the right way.
  4. Put the Plan on Paper: You need to write down all your wishes and the rules for the trust on paper. This paper is called a “trust document.”
  5. Follow the Rules: You need to make sure everything you’re doing follows the rules and laws. This way, the trust can work the way you want it to.

Remember, a disability trust is a way to keep money safe and use it for the right thing.  It ensures that individuals can access necessary support and resources while still maintaining eligibility for government benefits. By establishing a SNT, families can provide for their loved ones’ long-term care and well-being, offering peace of mind and financial security for the future.

Advantages of Establishing a Special Needs Trust


  • Preserving Eligibility for Government Benefits:

    • Individuals with disabilities can maintain eligibility for crucial government benefits.
    • Placing assets and income into the trust ensures these resources are not considered personal means for means-tested programs.

    Ensuring Long-Term Financial Security:

    • Supplemental needs trusts establish a reliable outline for managing and disbursing funds on behalf of individuals with special needs.
    • This ensures meeting their lifetime financial needs, including medical expenses, therapy, education, housing, and transportation

    Supplementing Government Benefits:

    • Government benefits may not cover all expenses associated with caring for a person with special needs.
    • Enables additional funds to supplement these benefits, providing a higher quality of life and greater opportunities for the beneficiary.

    Protecting Inheritance and Gifts:

    • Inheritance or gifts received by individuals with special needs can potentially affect their government benefits eligibility.
    • Placing these assets in a supplemental needs trust safeguards the funds and allows the trustee to utilize them for the beneficiary’s benefit without compromising eligibility.

Creating a Special Needs Trust

Establishing a supplemental needs trust involves careful planning and adherence to legal requirements. Here are the key steps involved:

  • Consult with an Attorney:

    Seek guidance from an experienced attorney specializing in special needs planning. They will ensure the trust is drafted in compliance with relevant laws and tailored to the specific needs of the beneficiary.

  • Select a Trustee:

    Choose a trustworthy and capable trustee responsible for managing the trust funds and making distributions in line with the beneficiary’s needs and best interests.

  • Determine Funding Sources:

    Decide on the sources of funding for the trust, such as assets, life insurance policies, or inheritances. Consider the long-term financial requirements of the beneficiary.

  • Provide Detailed Instructions:

    Clearly outline the intended use of the trust funds and specify the types of expenses that can be covered. This helps guide the trustee in making appropriate distributions.

  • Periodic Review:

    Regularly review and update the trust as necessary to ensure it remains aligned with the beneficiary’s evolving needs and changes in applicable laws.

Register Your Trust for Added Protection and Accessibility

Registering a Trust with The U.S. Will Registry provides an extra layer of protection and ensures its seamless administration. Registration is free and by taking this proactive measure, you can minimize the risk of the trust going unnoticed or being misplaced, offering peace of mind to you and your family. Registering with The U.S. Will Registry enhances the accessibility of the trust, guaranteeing that your intentions are honored and your loved one’s needs are met according to your carefully crafted plan.

The Importance of Trust Registration

Registering your special need trust with The U.S. Will Registry offers several key benefits:

1. Enhanced Protection:

By registering your trust, you create a verifiable record that helps protect against potential disputes or challenges. It provides an additional layer of security, ensuring that your trust’s existence and details can be easily verified.

2. Easy Location and Retrieval:

Registering a trust with The U.S. Will Registry simplifies the process of locating it when needed. Rather than relying on potentially scattered or forgotten documentation, the registry acts as a centralized repository, making it easier for your loved ones to find the trust and carry out your wishes.

3. Peace of Mind:

Registering the trust provides peace of mind, knowing that it is securely recorded and can be accessed when necessary. This knowledge alleviates concerns about the trust’s whereabouts and guarantees that your loved ones can effectively manage the trust in the future.


A supplemental needs trust provides financial security and peace of mind for individuals with special needs. By planning carefully, families ensure long-term financial well-being. Register the trust with The U.S. Will Registry for added protection and organization.  Consult a specialized attorney to understand the intricacies. A well-planned SNT offers peace of mind for your loved one’s financial security.

Special Needs Trusts Terminology


The accounting explains trust activity for a specific time period and can be simple or detailed.  Therefore, it is prepared by the trustee, an accountant, or an attorney hired by the trustee.


In first-party SNTs, the beneficiary must be disabled according to the Social Security Administration, and they are the person for whom the trust is established. In some states, third-party SNT beneficiaries must also have a disability.

Bond or Surety:

A trustee may need a bond, which acts as insurance against fraud, negligence, or loss of trust assets. The bonding company reimburses the trust for any losses caused by the trustee.


In most cases, trustees have the right to receive compensation for their services, unless the trust agreement explicitly states otherwise. State law often dictates the amount, and the trustee treats this compensation as taxable income.


First-party SNT beneficiaries must have a disability recognized by the Social Security Act. The SSA’s website provides a comprehensive list of recognized disabilities for adults and children.


The grantor creates and funds the trust, also known as a settlor or trustor. Therefore, in first-party SNTs, the grantor is the beneficiary, while in third-party SNTs, it is typically a parent or family member.

Inter vivos:

The grantor establishes inter vivos trusts during their lifetime. All first-party SpecialNeeds Trusts fall under this category, while inter vivos third-party SNTs can be revocable or irrevocable.


Irrevocable trusts cannot be changed or revoked. First-party SNTs must always be irrevocable, but third-party SNTs can be either irrevocable or revocable.

Remainder Beneficiary:

When the trust ends, the remainder beneficiaries receive any remaining trust assets. In first-party SNTs, Medicaid is typically the first remainder beneficiary, while in third-party SNTs, the grantor decides the remainder beneficiaries (excluding Medicaid).


The grantor can change or revoke revocable trusts. Only third-party SNTs can be revocable, but they often become irrevocable upon the grantor’s death.

Schedule A:

Schedule A, also called a schedule of assets, lists all the assets owned. It is important for the trustee to keep this schedule updated.

Successor Trustee:

A successor.trustee takes over when the initial trustee is unable to serve. The trust agreement outlines the requirements the successor trustee must meet before assuming the role.


After the testator’s death, a last will and testament creates a testamentary trust, which becomes funded.  It can only be a third-party SNT.


The trustee manages assets and administers the provisions. They can be a family member, friend, colleague, or professional. Additionally, often multiple individuals serve as trustees simultaneously.

Trust Estate :

This type of estate includes assets placed in the trust and managed by the trustee for the beneficiary’s benefit. It encompasses income earned from invested trust assets.

Explore Comprehensive Last Will Management with The U.S. Will Registry

Discover our range of services: Free Will Creation, Free Will Registration, Missing Will Search, Free iCloud Storage and Free Death Notices, and Obituaries.
Create and Safeguard your will and ensure peace of mind.

Scroll to Top