What to Know About Estate Planning for Loved Ones with Special Needs

If you have a family member with special needs, it is important that you create an estate plan that accommodates them and protects their future. It is in your best interest to retain the services of a dedicated Pennsylvania estate planning attorney to discuss the specifics of your case and your options. At Friedman Schuman, our legal team is committed to helping you and your family.

Who would benefit from a special needs trust in Pennsylvania?

Many people may need the help of a special needs estate plan. This includes those who cannot live independently because they have certain conditions, such as autism or Down Syndrome. Others who may need this plan may include individuals with a progressively debilitating disease, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or ALS.

Does a loved one with special needs lose government benefits if included in a will?

In many cases, parents of children with special needs will disinherit their special needs child because they fear that he or she will lose out on government benefits. Fortunately, there are ways for your child to both acquire your assets and keep your government benefits. With the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, you can establish these trusts and ensure that your loved one’s future will be taken care of.

Government benefits, including SSI Medicaid, can assist your child with receiving medical and dental care, transportation services, education, and other necessary assistance. It is important that your child does not lose these resources. Hire the services of a dedicated and knowledgeable attorney who understands the importance and sensitivity of these circumstances.

What are the different types of special needs trusts?

There are three main types of trusts that can be made for a loved one with a disability. They include:

  • Third-Party Special Needs Trusts: This trust can be created by another person for a beneficiary. It can be made during an individual’s lifetime or in the event of a death because they are typically funded by life insurance. Relatives such as grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and friends can make gifts to this trust.
  • Self-Funded Special Needs Trusts: This trust is self-funded with assets owned by the trust beneficiary. They are usually required when a disabled individual received a settlement from a personal injury action or inheritance from a loved one. This is also used for divorce alimony, property division, and child support payments for a child with a disability.
  • Pooled Special Needs Trusts: This trust is also funded with assets owned by the trust beneficiary. They are established and managed by nonprofit organizations. The assets are pooled together for investment purposes. However, the nonprofit organization manages a sub-account for the beneficiary. An individual with disabilities can establish a pooled trust sub-account on their own, which is why this is a common choice for beneficiaries who have no living relatives or guardians.


Friedman Schuman is an experienced and dedicated legal resource for clients throughout Pennsylvania. We proudly serve clients facing a wide range of legal matters. If you require the services of an effective attorney, please contact Friedman Schuman today to schedule a consultation.

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