Attorney holding a card with SPECIAL NEEDS PLAN message

Generally, a Trust is a legal way to manage money and assets for someone else. For individuals with special needs, a good way to do that is through a Special Needs Trust or a Supplemental Needs Trust. Often used interchangeably, these legal documents are methods of storing away money or other assets for a person who has special needs, the beneficiary, without affecting their state or federal benefits.

When special needs planning began, Trusts created for individuals with special needs and disabilities were referred to as Supplemental Needs Trusts. The name derives from the idea that the Trust’s purpose was to supplement the assistance provided by governmental programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income, all of which whose support is often minimal.

Prior to 1993, families often left out disabled family members from inheriting any assets, and instead would leave them to some third party to “care for” their special needs family member. The reason people did this was because they that if they left their disabled family member with any inheritance, then it would disqualify them from any state or federal assistance. But in 1993, Congress established new laws, giving disabled individuals the same benefits as non-disabled and created the Supplemental Needs Trust. This Trust allows you to leave any amount of inheritance to a loved one who has special needs without affecting their ability to be eligible for state and federal assistance and benefits.

Furthermore, the law provides that the Trust must be used to supply “luxuries” for the disabled individual that they would not otherwise enjoy with state and federal benefits. These “luxuries” can include technology such as computers, motorized wheelchairs, and prosthetics that would not be provided with the governmental programs.

However, within the 1993 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) under 42 USC 1396p(d)(4)(A), the ability to create self-settled Trusts (first-party Trusts), which are Trusts created by the special needs individual themselves, was authorized. When this happened, people called for a distinction between the new first-party Trusts, which were to be called Special Needs Trusts, and third-party Trusts (Trusts created by parents or other family members for the special needs individual), which were to be called Supplemental Needs Trusts.

But this distinction never really took hold as both Special Needs Trusts and Supplemental Needs Trusts both began to be referred to as the former.

Special Needs Trust

A Special Needs Trust is a first-party Trust, and it refers to the actual purpose of the Trust – to pay for the beneficiary’s unique needs. In short, it is focused more on the beneficiary. Special Needs Trusts is the way to refer to a Trust in which the money that is used to fund the Trust is the money of the person with special needs.

Supplemental Needs Trust

Supplemental Needs Trust is a third-party Trust, and it refers to the shortcomings of the public benefits programs. The money used to fund this Trust is money that belongs to someone other than the individual with special needs.

Estate Planning Overview

At Booker Law, we believe in proper and comprehensive estate planning tailored specifically to meet your and your family’s needs. Of course, we offer individual documents, but we advocate for complete planning through one of our package deals.

The Booker Law Estate Planning Portfolio Binder

All our package deals come with an “Estate Planning Portfolio”. In this portfolio, you will have your estate plan neatly tabbed and organized along with the additional helpful sections provided for you to fill out and maintain organization of your estate for the convenience of your family. 

In addition to having all your estate planning documents neatly organized and together, you will be provided with the following:

  • Essential Documents: This section allows you to keep track of personal information, contact information for family members and for any other important persons or agencies as well as where all your important documents are.
  • Assets: This section allows you to keep track of all your assets for the ease and convenience of your family. Much of the burden in estate administration comes from tracking down and locating all assets. By maintaining a list of your assets within your estate planning portfolio binder you are making life much easier for your loved ones.
  • End-of-Life Instructions: This section provides a checklist of things to do upon your passing and it provides a basic template of things to do and letters to send to notify certain agencies of your passing. 
  • Q&A and Glossary: This section provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about estate planning, and it defines some common estate planning terms.
  • Blank Sections: We provide blank sections for you to fill in as you see fit. If there are any type of instructions or information we have not accounted for in the above sections, this is where you would add those in.
  • USB Drive: We also understand the importance of having digital copies in this day and age, so we provide you with those digital copies on a USB drive. 

Booker Law’s Estate Planning System

  1. Estate Planning Questionnaire: Quick and easy way for us to get a good understanding of your unique situation.

  2. Discovery and Strategic Planning Session: Understand your option and select the estate planning solution that is right for you.

  3. Signing Meeting: Review and sign your estate plan.

  4. Estate Plan Maintenance and Client Care: Enjoy calls, emails, and review meetings with our firm to make sure your plan remains up to date and accurately reflects your current circumstances.

We will be here for you as a trusted family attorney and counselor.

Estate Plan Maintenance and Client Care

As a client of ours, we encourage you to take advantage of the services we offer in support of estate plan maintenance and client care.

Our services go far beyond simply setting up a Will or Living Trust. Our team and our resources are also available through:

  • Free phone calls
  • Helpful videos
  • Informative articles

The Cost of a Customized Estate Plan is Invaluable

All our estate plans are prepared for a fixed price quoted in advance at the discovery meeting and agreed to by you in writing before we finalize your plan. There will not be any surprise changes or fees ever. Additionally, payment plans are available if needed. We welcome the opportunity to serve those vital to our communities, including teachers, military service members, and first responders.

In the end, you will walk away with a comprehensive, customized estate plan tailored specifically to meet yours and your family’s needs. But more importantly, you walk away with the peace of mind knowing your affairs are in order and your family is provided for.

Contact a Wichita Falls Special Needs Estate Planning Attorney

At Booker Law, our desire is for our clients to understand all their options and make an educated decision.

If you have special needs family members, you need an estate plan in place. 

Do not delay! Plan for the inevitable and secure your family's future. Call us at 940-569-4000 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free, confidential, no obligation consultation