Family members with special needs may require assistance throughout their lives. If you want to ensure that a loved one with a disability is taken care of after you are gone, you can help manage resources for them by using a third-party special needs trust (SNT).

Also known as a supplemental needs trust, a third-party SNT is funded with assets (money and property) that do not belong to the special needs beneficiary but are meant to be used for their benefit. Third-party SNTs allow the beneficiary to receive some benefit from the trust while preserving the beneficiary’s eligibility for means-tested public assistance programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). When the beneficiary passes away, whatever funds remain in the third-party SNT can pass to other family members.

Choosing the right trustee to manage a third-party SNT is a crucial decision. The person selected for this role must understand their responsibilities and fulfill them in a way that does not jeopardize the beneficiary’s government benefits.