Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jan 10, 2020

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How does a special needs trust fit into someone’s general estate plan – and how do you go about creating, changing or revoking this kind of trust? To find out, we asked Sarah E. Peart, an attorney from Tampa Florida whose practice focuses mainly in the areas of wills, trusts, estate planning and real estate law. Here’s what she told us:

  • Florida special needs trusts as an estate planning tool. [A special needs trusts] allows the trust assets to be used for additional comfort and care. So, a disabled loved one can have a higher standard of living and a higher quality of living that would be unavailable if only government assistance were used. The disabled [person]can benefit from an inheritance or a settlement, for example, without being disqualified from medical assistance benefits or by being forced to immediately forfeit all assets to the state.
  • Creating, changing & revoking trusts. [A special needs trust] can be created by a qualifying grantor at any time, but it is most commonly created before the disabled individual receives a settlement or an inheritance. If it’s a revocable trust, it may be changed or revoked if the beneficiary’s circumstances change such as they are no longer qualified as a disabled person. Also, if the special needs trust is revocable; it becomes irrevocable upon the beneficiary’s death. So at that point it, can’t be changed or revoked.

Why using an experienced Florida lawyer matters

Special needs trusts are not very common – and therefore, some attorneys may not fully understand how they work. Peart explained, “Many attorneys don’t have the necessary experience to create a special needs trust even though they may have plenty of general estate planning experience. [I]t’s crucial to make sure that an attorney has experience actually drafting these trusts because a poorly drafted or invalid special needs trust would have very severe ramifications on a disabled individual’s health, welfare and financial stability.”

If you believe a trust might be right for your situation, contact an experienced Florida trusts attorney to evaluate your options. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.