Establishing a valid special needs trust

By June 15, 2011Special Needs Trusts

We have repeatedly discussed the requirement that special needs trust funds only be used for specific purposes – namely to supplement the care that an individual with special needs receives from public benefit programs, such as SSI or ALTCS.  And while this requirement is important, indeed necessary, for a special needs trust to exist, it is by no means the only requirement that pertains to the validity of special needs trusts.

At a very fundamental level, trusts of all kinds must adhere to specific requirements.  And although special needs trusts are established for a unique purpose, they must also adhere to the requirements that control other types of trusts.  Put succinctly, a valid trust requires that the settlor deliver legal title of the trust assets to the trustee for the benefit of beneficiaries, with intent to create a trust for a valid purpose.

As you may have guessed, we can break down this rule into several distinct parts, each of which must be satisfied for a trust to be valid.  For instance, as to delivering legal title of trust assets, simply signing the trust document is insufficient.  As to intent, a trust document must make clear that the settlor actually intended for the trustee to hold the trust assets for a beneficiary, and did not merely intend to make a gift.  There are even specific requirements as to trust assets, such that they must be certain and identifiable for the trust to exist.

The point to all of this is that even simple trusts must comply with specific requirements in order to be valid.  And special needs trusts have even more requirements than other types of trusts.  If you have a family member with special needs, you should not trust an attorney to handle your special needs trust issues unless that attorney has extensive experience in this area.  If you have questions about special needs trusts, do not hesitate to contact a special needs trust attorney by calling JacksonWhite at (480) 818-6912.