The Elrod Firm


What Is A Supplemental Needs Trust?

James, my son David has Down Syndrome, and my husband and I are concerned about planning for his care once we are gone. What should we consider when making estate plans? – Wendy

Wendy, all estate planning should be a comprehensive look at your circumstances and needs. Estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all process. It’s crucial to have an open and frank conversation with an estate planning attorney about what plan is best for you.

When your family members require continuing care, we want to make clear what they’ll need when you’re gone. If such family members receive assistance from Medicaid or state disability services, there’s a specific concern to keep these services. A trust of any type should consider these facts and possible scenarios. When I draft a revocable trust, I place in its wording a Supplemental Needs section. This helps address any situations where disability might one day become an issue for a beneficiary or trustee.

But sometimes, my client’s child can face these kinds of concerns daily. In those cases, I often suggest the parent create a stand-alone Supplemental Needs trust for that child.

The Supplemental Needs trust shelters assets passed from the parents to the child, and ensures the child won’t lose the services they rely on for everyday needs. This trust appoints a trustee to steward the assets for the child into the future. The assets in this trust supplement the needs of the child that Medicaid or disability services can’t meet. Because the funds are out of the child’s control, they don’t disqualify the child for services.

If you have time, visit our website at, and consider scheduling a free consultation so that we can set your mind at ease and put an effective plan in place.

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