In estate planning, people often wish to leave property or funds to loved ones who are on Medicaid, and /or those who receive Supplemental Security Income. Unfortunately, making such a person a beneficiary in a trust can sometimes jeopardize their right to continue receiving such benefits. In accident cases the Federal government can place a lien on the property or seek to recover money for the benefits which they have received. In such circumstances, you may wish to seek the counsel of a lawyer such as Attorney Thomas R. Mullen of Quincy, Massachusetts. Attorney Mullen can help you to draw up a will, deal with probate, and even set up a.Durable Power of Attorney. Attorney Tom Mullen can also counsel you on setting up a Supplemental Needs Trust or Special Needs Trust for any loved one you may have who receives disability or Medicaid.

How Can A Special Needs Trust Help?

The Special Needs Trust or Supplemental Needs Trust is a way to prevent any beneficiary who may be drawing Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid from losing their eligibility. This way, you do not actually leave the money or property to the loved one, but instead you leave it to the trust. When setting up a trust, you will choose someone to serve as the trustee. The trustee has control over the property that is left to the trust, and makes sure that it is used to benefit the person for whom the trust was created. Since the beneficiary actually has no control over the money or property, neither the State nor the Federal government can put a lien on the money, nor can Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid be stopped because of the inheritance.

How Can the Beneficiary Spend the Trust Funds?

In order to avoid the loss of benefits from Supplemental Security Income and/or Medicaid, you cannot leave money to a loved one who is a recipient of either program. The Supplemental Needs Trust or Special Needs Trust can be a way to leave money to them; however, the trustee cannot actually give money to the beneficiary. What the trustee can do is use the assets from the trust to buy goods and services for the beneficiary. This would include furniture, medical and dental care which may not be covered by Medicaid, vacations, education, cars, physical rehabilitation, or even personal attendants; almost anything, really. But never food not shelter.

What if I Do Not Have a Trustee?

In many cases, there may not be anyone who you can trust to be the trustee of a Supplemental Needs Trust or Special Needs Trust. Also, you may not have a large amount of property or money to leave the loved one. If that is the case, there are “pooled trusts” which are set up by nonprofit organizations which exist for just such a purpose. These organizations will pool funds from several families and then invest them in order to benefit each beneficiary, and each one will have their own account. The organization will spend money on each beneficiary, just as a trustee would. If you are planning to leave property and/ or funds to a loved one who is on either Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid, contact the law offices of Attorney Tom R. Mullen today at 617-770-1050.

Thomas R. Mullen
Thomas R. Mullen has been an attorney since 1977 and has devoted his practice exclusively to elderlaw since 1988. He is nationally recognized as one of the foremost experts on Medicaid planning. His additional Practice areas include estate planning and trusts for disabled people, as well as assisting attorneys with Medicaid lien allocations and the Medicare Secondary Payer Act. In the Spring 2013 issue of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) Journal, Attorney Thomas R. Mullen of Quincy, Mass. was described by the Academy’s Massachusetts past president and law professor William J.Brisk as being “a prominent and innovative elderlaw attorney.”