I have been asked: “Can I use an online template or do-it-yourself service to create my child’s Special Needs Trust?”
A Special Needs Trust is a very complex legal tool that rarely works as a “one-size-fits-all” solution. I’d venture to say that the majority of online templates or DIY software programs that create Special Needs Trusts are not sufficient for most families and would cause many unintended consequences.
A DIY program can’t understand the complexities of your family or your child’s unique needs. It also won’t tell you what you are MISSING or that could hurt your child when you are no longer around to protect him or her.
Not to mention, laws vary from state to state and eligibility for programs that your child may depend on are also complex and difficult to account for on a generic, “one-size-fits-all” document.
For example, the eligibility rules for Medicaid are different from those for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and both of those are different from Section 8 housing. Many of the decisions made by a Trustee can have devastating consequences for the individual with special needs and their ability to access critical government programs.
Further, without having detailed knowledge, families (and even some inexperienced lawyers!) make the mistake of putting a “Medicaid pay-back” provision into the Trust rather than allowing the remainder of the Trust to go to others upon the death of the individual with special needs. While Medicaid pay-back provisions are required in some types of Special Needs Trusts, an attorney who knows the difference can save your family thousands of dollars, or more.
So, while it is possible to create a Special Needs Trust using an online template, it is not likely to produce the best results for your child or your family.
If you have questions about Special Needs Trusts or want to get started drafting one, please call our office to set up an appointment.