What is a Special Needs Trust?

Also called a supplemental needs trust, a special needs trust (SNT) is a fiduciary arrangement designed to hold and manage assets for a person with disabilities. This type of trust is intended to provide for the supplemental needs of the beneficiary without jeopardizing their access to benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). At Johnson and Taylor, our trust attorneys in Salem, Oregon can help you understand how a special needs trust works and determine whether it’s appropriate for your specific circumstances.

Understanding Special Needs Trusts

The role of a special needs trust is to enhance the quality of life of a loved one with disabilities by providing for their supplemental needs. Funds from special needs trusts in Oregon may only be used for certain things, such as entertainment, education, and medical expenses not covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Although these funds typically cannot cover needs like housing costs and food, they may be used for:

  • Vacations and travel
  • Entertainment and recreation
  • Home furnishings, electronics, and other supplemental items
  • Vehicles
  • Transportation services
  • Medical devices
  • Goods and services not covered by medical insurance, such as eyeglasses and dental work
  • Training and education
  • Insurance
  • Legal expenses
  • Payments for a hired companion
  • Burial expenses

It’s vital for a trustee to know how proceeds from a special needs trust may be used. A wills and trusts attorney can evaluate your circumstances and advise you on choosing a person who understands how these specific rules apply. If you don’t have anyone specific in mind, your attorney may recommend appointing a professional trust administrator.

Types of Special Needs Trusts in Oregon

The most common type of SNT is a third-party special needs trust. This type of trust is established by someone other than the beneficiary and is usually a parent, grandparent, guardian, or another family member.

A self-settled special needs trust, also called a first-party SNT, is funded with assets owned by a person with disabilities. A first-party SNT is often funded with proceeds from a personal injury settlement, inheritance, or other sources. It’s important to note that upon the beneficiary’s death, Medicaid and other means-tested benefit programs may have a right to recover funds from the trust to reimburse the government for benefits provided during their lifetime.

Creating a Special Needs Trust

A special needs is created by a grantor and managed by a trustee for the benefit of the person with disabilities. It must be carefully drafted to ensure compliance with state and federal laws that apply to trusts and public benefit programs. Assets can be transferred into the trust during the grantor’s lifetime or through provisions in a will or other estate planning documents. Hiring a wills and trusts attorney with experience in special needs planning can ensure the trust meets all legal requirements.

Duties of a Trustee

The trustee has the fiduciary duty to manage the trust assets prudently and in the best interests of the beneficiary. This includes investing assets, filing tax returns, and making distributions according to the terms of the trust and the law.

Trustees are also responsible for maintaining accurate records of all trust transactions, including income, expenses, and distributions. They may be required to provide periodic accountings to beneficiaries and other interested parties as specified by Oregon law. One of their most important duties is to ensure that funds are used in a way that doesn’t jeopardize any public benefits a disabled person receives.

Preserving Eligibility for Government Benefits

Government benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid, and SSI have strict income and asset limits. When assets are placed in a special needs trust, they aren’t considered when determining a person’s eligibility for these benefits.

A special needs trust is a valuable tool for providing financial support and enhancing the quality of life for a loved one with disabilities. Ensuring that it’s meticulously crafted by an experienced lawyer and administered by a knowledgeable trustee is vital to preserving your loved one’s benefits, well-being, and financial security.

In addition to handling wills, trusts, and estate planning, Johnson and Taylor litigate personal injury and divorce and family matters. Our estate planning attorneys serve clients in Marion, Polk, and Linn County and surrounding communities.

Contact a Special Needs Trust Attorney in Oregon

At Johnson and Taylor, we’re dedicated to helping our clients find peace of mind, knowing that their loved ones will be well taken care of after they’re gone. If you need assistance with creating a special needs trust, call our office at 503-990-6641 or contact us to schedule a consultation with a trust attorney in Oregon. Members of our team are fluent in Spanish.

How Do Insurance Companies Pay Out Claims? Insurance Tricks to Look Out for After a Personal Injury.

Navigating a personal injury claim can be challenging, especially when dealing with insurance companies. At Johnson and Taylor, we help personal injury clients throughout Oregon recover the compensation they need and deserve after an accident. Being aware of the tricks and tactics that insurance companies often employ to minimize payouts or deny personal injury claims can help you understand how to protect your rights and interests.

Low Initial Settlement Offers

One of the most common tactics used by insurance adjusters is to initially offer a settlement amount that’s substantially lower than the actual value of the claim. This insurance trick is intended to set a lower starting point for negotiations and test a victim’s willingness to accept a lower settlement amount. Regardless of whether you’ve been hurt in a car crash or slip-and-fall accident, it’s never a good idea to sign anything or accept a settlement offer without speaking to our personal injury lawyers in Oregon first.

It’s also important to understand that this applies to your own insurance company as well. Insurance policy jargon is deliberately complicated, which makes it easier to misrepresent the terms of coverage. While you may think they’re on your side, unfortunately, their number one goal is to pay as little as possible. Our personal injury attorneys or car accident lawyers can evaluate your case and give you a straightforward assessment of what it may be worth.

Seeking Recorded or Written Statements

Shortly after an accident, an insurance adjuster may contact you to give a recorded or written statement. Although they may present this as a routine practice or necessary for processing the claim, you may not be required to give them a statement on demand. The main goal of obtaining your statement is to gather evidence that can be used to dispute liability, devalue your claim, or downplay your injuries. If they ask for a statement, refer them to your personal injury attorney.

High Pressure Tactics

Insurance adjusters may employ high-pressure tactics to convince you to accept a settlement before you’ve had a chance to fully assess the extent of your injuries, understand your legal rights, or consult with our personal injury lawyers. They may express a sense of urgency and emphasize the benefits of avoiding lengthy litigation to come to a swift resolution.

In fact, the list of what insurance adjusters won’t tell you is quite long. Most claims are settled out of court. Our experienced personal injury attorneys know how to counter their scare tactics and protect your interests.

Encouraging You to Settle Without a Lawyer

Insurance adjusters know that personal injury lawyers won’t let them get away with using underhanded tactics or tricks. They also know that in all likelihood, your payout will be much higher if you hire an accident lawyer to help with your case. If an adjuster tries to discourage you from speaking to an attorney, don’t pay them any mind. Our personal injury lawyers offer free consultations and take cases on a contingency basis, so you really have nothing to lose in having your case evaluated by our legal professionals.

Asking for Your Medical Records

An insurer may tell you that you’re required to give them immediate access to your medical records – this is usually false unless access is needed to pay medical bills. Unfortunately, insurance claim reviewers will use your medical records to find any reason to deny your claim. Regardless of whether it’s your own insurance company or another party’s insurer, always talk to our accident attorneys before consenting to release your medical records to anyone.

Downplaying Injuries

Insurers often attempt to minimize the extent of a victim’s injuries to pay less on a claim. They question the severity of the person’s symptoms, blame a pre-existing condition, or challenge the necessity of certain medical treatments. In addition, to avoid paying damages like pain and suffering or loss of earning capacity, they may minimize the impact an injury has had on a victim’s quality of life or ability to work. In some cases, they enlist medical or vocational experts who support their position and undermine your case. Our personal injury lawyers can counter this with our own experts and evidence.

Disputing Liability

If there is a shred of ambiguity about who’s liable for an accident, an insurance company may try to shift blame onto the claimant or declare that the insured party isn’t responsible for damages. This is particularly common in cases involving commercial vehicles, as trucking company insurance policies often have high limits. If you’ve been hurt in this type of situation, it’s vital to seek the counsel of our experienced truck accident attorneys as soon as possible.

Delay Tactics

Insurance adjusters may deliberately delay the claims process by requesting excessive documentation, scheduling unnecessary meetings, or prolonging investigations. These delays can be frustrating, especially when an injured victim finds themselves in a precarious financial situation due to an accident. In these circumstances, insurers hope you’ll accept a lower settlement out of desperation. Don’t let insurers prey on you at this vulnerable time. You can count on your personal injury lawyer to handle all aspects of your claim, fight to help you get the full amount of compensation you deserve, and keep things moving as quickly as possible.

What to Do If an Insurance Company Will Not Pay a Claim

If an insurer refuses to pay or offer a reasonable settlement for your damages, contact our personal injury lawyers. Getting legal help with insurance claims greatly increases your chances of a successful outcome. We can help level the playing field and negotiate a settlement that adequately compensates you for your losses.

At Johnson and Taylor, we know that dealing with insurance companies after an accident can be daunting. Our personal injury attorneys serve clients in Salem, Eugene, Bend, the Oregon Coast, Medford, and throughout Oregon. Our team litigates probate and estate planning and divorce and family law matters as well.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Salem, Oregon

Our personal injury attorneys at Johnson and Taylor provide tenacious, compassionate legal support you can trust. Members of our team are fluent in Spanish. To schedule a free consultation with our accident attorneys in Salem, OR, contact us online or call 503-990-6641.