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Special Needs Trust Attorneys in Oregon

When you have a child or relative with special needs, you want to make sure they’re well taken care of after you’re gone. A Special Needs Trust (SNT) offers a way to provide for them without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI). At Johnson and Taylor, our wills and trusts lawyers in Oregon understand the complex federal and state laws surrounding special needs trusts. Our attorneys help you understand the benefits of special needs trusts and which type will best fit your circumstances.

What is a Special Needs Trust?

A Special Needs Trust (SNT) is a financial arrangement that provides support for people with disabilities while preserving their eligibility for government benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid, and SSI. Special needs trusts are usually set up by a parent, guardian, or grandparent, and can include multiple assets, including cash, investments, and real estate.

Types of Special Needs Trusts in Oregon

There are several types of special needs trusts, each with its own purposes and requirements. In Oregon, the main types of SNTs include:

First-Party Special Needs Trust – This type of trust is funded with assets that belong to the person with special needs. These assets often include the proceeds from a personal injury settlement or an inheritance. To establish a first-party trust, the disabled person must be younger than 65 when it is created.

Third-Party Special Needs Trust – This type of trust is funded with assets that belong to someone else, such as a parent or grandparent. Age restrictions do not apply to a beneficiary of a third-party trust.

 All special needs trusts must be carefully drafted. Our Salem estate planning lawyers know what type of language to use to avoid violating strict federal and state rules and regulations that apply to special needs trusts.

How Can Funds from a Special Needs Trust Be Used in Oregon?

A special needs trust is used to pay for “extras,” not necessities like rent, food, or utilities. A person with a special needs trust cannot receive cash or gift cards from the SNT funds. However, a special needs trust can be used for things like recreation, education, and medical expenses not covered by Medicaid.

These funds may be used for:

  • Dental work, eyeglasses, and therapies not covered by medical insurance
  • Training and education
  • Vacations and travel
  • Recreation and entertainment such as movies, sports games, concerts, and social events
  • Electronics, including video game systems, computers, and other devices
  • Home furnishings
  • Wheelchairs and medical devices
  • A vehicle
  • Insurance
  • Transportation services such as a bus pass, train fare, Uber, or airline ticket
  • Payments for a hired companion
  • Legal expenses
  • Burial expenses

It’s important for a trustee to understand how the funds from a special needs trust can be used. If you’re setting up a special needs trust for a loved one, make sure the trustee you choose is aware of these rules, or consider appointing a professional trustee who has experience in this area.

Advantages of Special Needs Trusts in Oregon

Preservation of Government Benefits

One of the primary benefits of a special needs trust is that it protects a person’s eligibility for government assistance programs. Most of these programs have strict income and asset limits. For example, in 2023, the monthly income limit for someone receiving SSI is $1,913. A person receiving SSI may not have more than $2,000 in assets (excluding their home, vehicle, and personal belongings). Our wills and trusts lawyers know how these income and asset limits work and can answer any questions you may have when setting up a special needs trust for your loved one.

Supplemental Support

While it’s wonderful that programs like SSI and Medicaid help meet a disabled person’s basic needs, a special needs trust provides additional financial support for items and activities that improve their quality of life. This can make a huge difference when it comes to someone’s overall well-being and happiness.

Asset Management

The trustee responsible for managing a special needs trust must always keep the beneficiary’s best interest at the forefront. This means that they follow the terms outlined in the trust document and ensure trust assets are invested and distributed appropriately.

Choosing a trustee who can manage the SNT responsibly and understands the needs of the person with disabilities is vital. If you’re unsure of who to appoint as a trustee, our trust administration attorneys provide an objective perspective that can help you make informed decisions.

Why Choose Our Wills and Trusts Lawyers?

There are many factors to consider when setting up a special needs trust. Our experienced special needs trusts attorneys possess a deep knowledge of federal and state laws and ensure any trust we create is legally sound. Rules and income limits for government benefit programs change, so our attorneys keep up with the latest developments in these programs so we can provide clients with the information they need to make any necessary adjustments. We can also periodically review a special needs trust to ensure it complies with current laws and meets the evolving needs of the beneficiary.

Our trust administration lawyers understand the importance of protecting the rights and interests of people with special needs. We care about you and your family, and we’re dedicated to helping you create a trust that addresses your loved one’s specific needs and gives you peace of mind.

In addition, our knowledgeable team handles all aspects of estate planning, probate, divorce, family law, and personal injury matters. Our divorce and family law attorneys and estate planning and probate lawyers serve clients in Marion, Polk, and Linn Counties and surrounding communities.

Contact Our Special Needs Trust Attorneys in Salem, Oregon

If you’re interested in setting up a special needs trust in Oregon, the team at Johnson and Taylor can help you understand your options and guide you through the process every step of the way. To schedule a consultation with a wills and trusts lawyer in Oregon, call our office at 503-990-6641 or contact us online. Some members of our team are fluent in Spanish.