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Tampa Estate Planning Attorneys > Blog > Estate Planning > Understanding The Benefits Of Florida Special Needs Trusts

Understanding The Benefits Of Florida Special Needs Trusts


Providing around the clock care for a loved one is a full-time job. It takes a special person with patience, love, and understanding. You are your loved one’s best advocate and friend. If you care for a young child or adult child with special needs or a physical disability, you may be concerned about their level of care after your passing. How can you guarantee they are provided for if you are not present? Who can you trust to attend to your child’s needs? One strategy you may want to consider is the creation of a special needs trust. Our Tampa estate planning attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group can assist you in drafting a trust that meets the individual needs of your family.

What is a Special Needs Trust? 

A special needs trust is formed with the assistance of an estate planning attorney. Language and specific instructions pertaining to the loved one with a disability is included. Testators can assign a trustee and a substitute trustee to act on behalf of the child. Choosing a trust is no easy task, and it is important the testator notify a potential trustee in advance of the duties and responsibilities incurred should they accept. The trust is a mechanism the trustee must reference and adhere to in order to determine what assets will be allocated to the special needs beneficiary, how often, and in what form, such as a check or funds paid directly to a home health nurse or assisted living agency. The trust may also include instructions for what if events, such as the depletion of funds. It may instruct the executor to liquidate securities or sell property held in escrow for the child beneficiary.  Finally, the trust should contain language about when it becomes effective, usually after the testator’s death.

How Does a Special Needs Trust Protect Benefits?

Many state and federal programs available to Florida residents with a documented disability are limited to residents with demonstrated financial need. What does this mean for families with a special needs child? If a caregiver should pass away, they will want to provide explicit details about the special needs child’s monthly income and expenses, including how these items are paid and what income threshold the child must remain under in order to secure eligibility and continued enrollment in benefits. The special needs  trust can be specifically designed to protect the child’s enrollment in Medicaid, SSI or disability benefits.

In addition, Florida offers additional assistance such as the Optional State Supplementation (OSS) program. The OSS program provides financial assistance to elderly adults requiring residential care. The OSS program is also available for disabled individuals requiring around the clock care.  The TCA program specifically addresses the needs of minor children coping with a physical or cognitive disability. To be eligible for TCA financial assistance, the caregiver must apply as a family unit and the family’s combined income must be 185 percent below the federal poverty level. Adult children can also receive assistance for up to 4 years.

Let Us Help You Today 

Your child deserves the best care possible, even after you are unable to care for them yourself. Protect your child’s future and consider drafting a special needs trust. Our lawyers at Strategic Counsel Law Group can help you identify assistance your special needs child is eligible for, walk you through the application process, and go step by step through the drafting process. You have nothing to lose. Call us today to schedule a consultation and secure your child’s future.



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