Supplemental Needs/Special Needs Trust

The purpose of a special needs trust is to establish a fund for the benefit of a person suffering from a severe and chronic or persistent disability; it is a supplement to, not a substitute for, government benefits. The fund pays for the unique, long-term needs of the beneficiary and aims to afford him or her the best lifestyle possible under the circumstances.

All of the requirements for creating a valid trust in New York apply to supplemental needs/special needs trusts. In addition, the trust documents must recite specific provisions required by New York law. If properly drafted, the assets of the trust cannot be counted for purposes of determining eligibility for government benefits or assistance.

Who may create a supplemental needs trust?

A person with legal responsibility for another person may create a special needs trust; traditionally, they were created by parents for their disabled child. However, a person without legal responsibility for the beneficiary may create a “third person supplemental needs trust” using a will or express trust, and so long as the third person gives complete control over the assets to the trustee, the government will not count the trust assets for purposes of determining eligibility for benefits.

A disabled person may also create a supplemental needs trust for his own benefit, but any assets left when he dies must be used to repay the state for benefits received.

I would like to establish a supplemental needs/special needs trust:

  • Determine how you will fund the trust.
  • Gather relevant documents about the property you would like to place in trust.
  • Get in touch with an experienced estate and trust lawyer.

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

Back to top

Our Lawyers

Our lawyers are screened and approved – they have all gone through an application and interview process. Each lawyer we recommend has been screened for significant experience, knowledge of ethics codes and rules, and law office practices, including customer service skills and handling of fees and billing.

Learn More

About Us

When you call us, you will be speaking with an attorney. One of our attorney referral counselors takes your call and talks with you about your legal question, or reviews your online referral request. There is no charge to speak with one of our attorney referral counselors — we’re here to help.

Learn More