For anyone wishing to provide long-term security for a loved one with a disability or special needs, or the recipient of a legal settlement or jury award whose government benefits eligibility would be impacted, a special needs trust can be vitally important.

More and more people are realizing the need for – and importance of – special needs planning and trusts. We’ve known all along.

And we’re still here.

Through our Raymond James Trust Services, we have the ability to identify and coordinate benefits eligibility issues of special needs trust beneficiaries in all 50 states.

As of 2022, we have over $1.1 billon in 1,800 accounts that are directed trust arrangements related to special needs trusts and settlement preservation trusts for benefit of individuals with disabilities.

Put simply we have a full line of services and expertise to help any family.

What is a Special Needs Trust (SNT):

A special needs trust is designed, in part, to preserve and supplement a beneficiary’s needs-based government benefits while benefiting from and enjoying trust assets to further enrich their lives. We think everyone seeking to provide for a loved one with a disability or special needs deserves a professional team committed to serving a beneficiary’s best interests.

A Special Needs Trust (SNT) can be established by families who are the primary providers of a child with disabilities, with the goal of improving the quality of the child's life and providing peace of mind for the future. This type of trust manages trust assets while also maintaining a disabled person's eligibility for government programs. Therefore, they can receive existing government benefits and assets set aside in the trust for additional expenses.

The SNT does not belong to the person with special needs, rather, it is established by a family member and administered by a trustee. The person with special needs is the beneficiary of the trust and is usually the only one who receives the benefits. Furthermore, the trustee is given the discretion to determine when and how much the child should receive. 

An SNT is typically appropriate for parents, grandparents or other family members that:

  • Care for a child with a disability who will have to face life without their financial help
  • Have a child with a disability who will never be capable of managing significant assets
  • Want to provide a legacy, but who are afraid that leaving too much money to their disabled child will interrupt government benefits
  • Want to ensure that their child with a disability has more than just the basics provided through government benefits

Characteristics of an SNT:

  • Irrevocable – Instructions cannot be changed once the trust is created and funded
  • Supplemental benefits – An attorney can structure the trust document to provide supplemental benefits to the disabled person but not provide for their basic support
  • Discretion – The trustee can have discretion to support the disabled person as a beneficiary, paying for supplemental items that add to his or her quality of life
  • Remaining funds – A plan should be made as to who should receive the remainder of the trust if the person with special needs passes away.