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When a loved one has a disability, providing for that person should become one of the central goals of their estate plan. In many cases (particularly where government benefits are involved), a loved one with a disability will need to have a special trust in the estate plan that is different from the trusts for the beneficiaries without disability. This type of trust is commonly referred to as a Special Needs Trust or “SNT.”

The purpose of SNT is to ensure the loved one continues to receives needed public benefits (such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid) while also receiving benefits from the funds held in trust to improve his or her quality of life. The exact terms of the SNT will depend on the source of the funds. Under current law, there exists the need to create either a “First Party” or “Third Party SNT” – each of which is discussed briefly below.