Wills: Beware When Legatee Is Disabled And On Government Benefits!

It is natural for parents and grandparents of disabled children that are disabled and on government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income ( SSI) to want to provide for that child in the event of death. 

However, it is important to remember that many government benefits including SSI are needs-based programs. This means that there are limits to how many assets a person can have to remain eligible for the program.

An inheritance can disqualify a person on government benefits including SSI. Depending on the size of the inheritance, the person could be disqualified for a long period of time and have to start the application process all over again to prove their disability when they are eligible for benefits again. This can take considerable time and effort.

One possible tool for avoiding this is to provide for a special needs trust in your will that directs that the disabled person’s bequest goes into a trust. It is important to be very careful in drafting the will with trust. Government bodies have specific regulations on requirements for trusts for the trust to be recognized. SSI presently recognizes special needs trusts as long as they meet all of the requirements established by Medicaid.

If you have any questions about wills, you should contact an experienced elder law or estate planning attorney.