Putting the Trust in a Special Needs Trust

image of man in a wheelchair at desk working

There are many challenges associated with ensuring your loved one with special needs receives the help and support he or she deserves throughout his or her life. Your family will have medical expenses – expected or unexpected – and will likely need to approach certain aspects of day-to-day activity differently.

The most notable issue is that every person has unique needs and circumstances. For this reason, proper planning is not only tricky, but it can also feel overwhelming.

At Members Trust Company, we have developed best practices to support you and your family. We specialize in administering Special Needs Trusts, which are explicitly designed for your loved ones with special needs so they can get the most out of the services that are available to them.

How do I Know if I Need a Special Needs Trust?

Regardless of age, a family member with special needs is likely to require help for a long time, if not for the rest of his or her life. Because of this, anyone with special needs should have a trust, especially if you plan on giving them money or assets of value at some point.

Gifting your loved one more than $2000 in assets, for example, whether as a direct transfer or an inheritance of assets, prohibits him or her from claiming the benefits of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. Since your loved one will likely need help during his or her entire life, it can be devastating when government support falls away.

By providing your loved one with a special needs trust, he or she will remain eligible for state and federal assistance, which can profoundly impact an enduring quality of life.

What Exactly are the Detailed Benefits of a Special Needs Trust?

The benefits of a special needs trust run deep:

  • A special needs trust helps pay for services that would not usually be available through programs such as SSI or Medicaid. These services can include traveling, buying technology such as computers, providing higher quality medical or dental care, helping your loved one receive an excellent education, or providing him or her with quality rehabilitation services when necessary.
  • A trust can act as an additional source of income, which is helpful when there is an additional requirement for special needs support.
  • A trust can hold an extensive range of assets. These can include but are not limited to, cash, stocks, real estate, or life insurance.
  • A special needs trust can lay down the guidelines regarding how you want your loved one to live once you are no longer here. By doing this, you can ensure that he or she maintains a specific quality of life going forward.

Does the Trustee I Choose Make A Difference?

Given the complexity and longevity involved with administering a Special Needs Trust, one of the most important decisions you can make is selecting a successor trustee. The rules surrounding eligibility for government programs are complex and ever-changing, and a mistake could compromise your loved one’s eligibility for vital government benefits and supplemental care.

As trustee:

  • Healthcare Assessments Inform Investment Plan
    We can work with a national nurse consulting firm to develop sustainable life care planning, quality of life assessment and third-party benefit analysis.
  • Informed Distribution Process
    We have implemented a system of checks and balances to ensure that every distribution is carefully considered.
  • Financial Independence for Beneficiaries
    We’ve partnered with True Link to offer customizable Visa prepaid cards to certain beneficiaries, which—as trustee—we can configure to allow only purchases that will preserve eligibility for government benefits, including SSI and Medicaid.
  • Loved Ones Serving as Caregivers are Compensated
    We partner with a third-party company that serves as employer of record for caregiving loved ones, handling payroll processing, record keeping and tax reporting. This way, family members are assured of proper withholdings to build up essential pay history and qualify for government benefits.

Let Us Help You Help Your Loved Ones

We strive to provide accessible support to all those who wish to ensure the safety and care of their loved ones with special needs. With our support, you can continue to provide as you have, but with the added security of government benefits, informed decision-making, and futureproof plans for your loved one.

Members Trust Company can help you administer this trust expertly and efficiently to ensure your loved one with special needs receives care long after you are gone. There’s a reason trust is our middle name.


This article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific legal or tax advice. For specific legal or tax advice, please consult with your attorney and/or accountant. Trust and Investment Products are uninsured, not guaranteed by Members Trust Company, any credit union or any federal agency. Any investment exposes an investor to investment risk, including the possible loss of principal.