We have previously discussed the basics of a special needs trust in an article you can read here. Now, we will take a more detailed look at a special needs trust in Florida and how a special needs trust attorney at Denise Jomarron Legal Group in Miami can help you establish one.
A special needs trust in Florida is a legal entity that allows a person with a physical or mental disability to have assets that do not jeopardize their eligibility for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, or other needs-based government benefits.
For instance, to qualify for Medicaid, a person with a disability who is single and requires no nursing care cannot own more than $5,000 in assets and cannot earn more than $945 a month in income.
Beginning in April 2022, if an unmarried person with a disability receives institutional or home and community-based services, Medicaid requires that they own $2,000 or less in assets and earn $2,523 or less in monthly income. (Married people applying for Medicaid have asset limits of $3,000 and an income limit of $5,046 [$2,523/month per spouse].)
Medicaid defines assets as:
Income includes wages, pension payments, and alimony payments. Medicaid does not consider personal belongings, one automobile, a primary home/homestead property, or irrevocable burial trusts as assets.
With a special needs trust, sometimes called an SNT or supplemental needs trust, a person with a disability can have money beyond those limits. A trustee, who must follow meticulous guidelines, remains in charge of the trust, which the beneficiary can use to supplement their government benefits. These trusts ensure that the trustee and beneficiary use the assets for their intended purpose.
A special needs trust in Florida cannot duplicate or supplant any payments that Medicaid handles and typically includes basic needs such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, and food.
However, a special needs trust can pay for various expenses that Medicaid does not cover. A special needs trust attorney can discuss these based on your loved one’s circumstances, but they often include:
An estate planning attorney can help you evaluate which type of Florida special needs trust is best for your family. There are at least five types of special needs trusts from which to choose:
First Party Special Needs Trust or D(4)(a) Trust: Since a person with a disability can establish this trust with their own money, it’s considered a “first party” special needs trust. Typically, the monies used to fund a First Party Special Needs Trust are derived from a personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuit. An individual, parent, grandparent, legal guardian, or Court can establish a First Party Special Needs Trust. The guidelines are fairly complicated, but in general, the beneficiary of the Trust must be disabled and younger than 64 in order for this type of trust to be established which is used to hold a settlement from an inheritance or an injury lawsuit without jeopardizing Medicaid or government-based benefits.
Third-Party Special Needs Trust: A parent or grandparent often establishes this type of trust to benefit an heir, child, or grandchild with a disability. This can be handled through such person’s own estate planning and is a great option for parents who have developmentally disabled children.
Pooled Trust: A person who has a disability or is over 65 can establish this type of trust to protect their current assets before going on Medicaid or in order to preserve their Medicaid and government benefits. Money in a pooled trust can pay for expenses such as maintaining the family home, travel, guardianship fees, geriatric care services, supplemental nursing care, and differentials in housing costs in institutional settings for shared and private rooms. Upon the beneficiary’s death, any funds remaining in this type of trust must remain in the trust or must be used to pay the state back for medical expenses rendered while on Medicaid. In some pooled trusts, there is an option to name beneficiaries to receive any monies remaining after reimbursing the state Medicaid agency.
ABLE Account: Similar to a 529 prepaid college plan, this third-party special needs trust enables a family member to deposit funds under certain guidelines into an account for a beneficiary with a disability.
Qualified Income Trust: A person over 65 or who needs long-term care can establish this type of trust to avoid exceeding the monthly income limit that would prohibit Medicaid from paying for their long-term care. The funds in this type of trust are to be used to pay for the beneficiary’s medical expenses.
Special needs trusts in Florida require an advanced level of understanding and expertise to establish correctly so that you or your loved one gets the care and financial assistance you need.
At Denise Jomarron Legal Group located in Miami, Florida, we help families who have children with special needs to guide and protect them to ensure their children maintain their government-based benefits to live a better quality of life with proactive planning. Call us at (305) 402-4494 to schedule your free consultation.
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