Your Guide to a Special Needs Trust Colorado
Eligibility Criteria for Public Benefits
Most public benefit programs, including Medicaid’s Home and Community-Based Services (H.C.B.S.) and the Supplemental Security Income program (S.S.I.), have requirements that a person must meet to be eligible. Eligibility criteria for public benefit programs may include the following:
Having a limited income
Being disabled, as defined by the Social Security Act
Possessing no more than $2,000 worth of non-exempt or countable assets
Government agencies assess whether assets (including trust funds) should be factored in to evaluate one’s eligibility for government benefits.
A person can generally only qualify for S.S.I. and most Medicaid programs if they have non-exempt assets worth less than $2,000.
In principle, so long as the person has access to a resource or asset, it will be counted against the $2,000 limit.
The Social Security Administration and the state may ignore some exempt assets, such as a primary residence, one car, some types of personal property, and a few other items. Nearly everything else is taken into account while determining whether an individual’s countable assets exceed $2,000.
Determining and protecting the eligibility of your special needs child or family member for government benefits can be complicated. You may want to get estate planning help and guidance from an experienced attorney.
Types of Special Needs Trusts in Colorado
There are three types of special needs trust funds in Colorado. Depending on your situation, you may choose between the following trust types:
Disability or Self-Funded Trusts
A disability trust is established for the sole benefit of an individual with disabilities to preserve their assets without endangering their eligibility for Medicaid and S.S.I. Usually, disability trust funds are established with assets belonging to the person with special needs.
Federal and state laws stipulate that only individuals under 65 may form a disability trust. Since a disability trust is established with the person’s assets, any assets remaining in the trust upon the death of the trust beneficiary must be first used to reimburse Medicaid for the medical assistance provided to the beneficiary.
After the Medicaid reimbursement has been settled, the remaining assets may be transferred to the beneficiary’s heirs.
Third-party-created trusts are formed to benefit an individual who is aged or disabled. Usually, third-party trusts are funded by family members or guardians of the person with special needs.
When family members, friends, or others wish to transfer assets to an elderly or an individual with disabilities without affecting that person’s eligibility for Medicaid or S.S.I., they can create a third-party trust for the person’s sole benefit.
A third-party trust can be established either as a living trust (inter vivos) or a testamentary trust by a will.
Testamentary Special Needs Trusts
A testamentary special needs trust is outlined in a person’s last will.
Usually, this type of trust is established and paid for after the grantor’s death, using the decedent’s assets for the designated beneficiary’s benefit.
The testator can determine the manner of distribution of any remaining trust assets in the event of the beneficiary’s death.
Pooled Trust Funds
Non-profit organizations manage pooled trusts that have asset contributions from multiple people.
Unlike the other two types, pooled trusts are created for many people instead of just one individual. Each person has an independent account that they can fund. Pooled trust assets are then combined and invested as a whole. The investment revenue is then shared with the beneficiaries in proportion to their contributions.