Why You Need a Special Needs Trust in Maryland

Estate planning is a crucial step in ensuring your loved ones are taken care of and your wishes are honored after you pass away. For families with a special needs beneficiary, establishing a special needs trust (SNT) is essential. Here’s why having a special needs trust in Maryland is vital for protecting your loved ones and preserving their quality of life.

What is a Special Needs Trust?

A special needs trust (SNT) is a legal arrangement where one party, the trustee, holds and manages assets on behalf of another party, the beneficiary, who has special needs. The primary purpose of a special needs trust is to provide for the beneficiary without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The Benefits of Having a Special Needs Trust

  1. Maintaining Eligibility for Government Benefits
    • Protecting Benefits Programs like Medicaid and SSI have strict income and asset limits. Without a special needs trust, an inheritance or large gift could disqualify a beneficiary from receiving these essential benefits.
    • Supplementing Care: A special needs trust allows for funds to be used for supplemental care and expenses not covered by government benefits, enhancing the beneficiary’s quality of life.
  2. Asset Protection
    • Shielding Assets from Creditors: Assets held in a special needs trust are protected from creditors and lawsuits, ensuring the beneficiary’s resources are secure.
    • Long-Term Security: The trust ensures that the beneficiary has access to funds throughout their lifetime, providing financial security.
  3. Flexibility and Control
    • Managed Distributions: Specify when and how the assets are distributed. This is crucial for ensuring funds are used appropriately and for the intended purposes.
    • Conditions and Instructions: Set specific conditions for distributions, such as payments for medical care, education, and other necessary expenses.
  4. Professional Management
    • Trustee Oversight: A professional trustee can manage the trust assets, ensuring that funds are used correctly and that the trust remains compliant with all legal requirements.
    • Peace of Mind: Knowing that a professional is managing the trust can provide peace of mind for family members.
  5. Enhancing Quality of Life
    • Supplemental Needs: Funds from the trust can be used for therapies, personal care attendants, recreation, and vacations, improving the beneficiary’s quality of life.
    • Independence: Providing for supplemental needs helps the beneficiary maintain a degree of independence and dignity.

Types of Special Needs Trusts

  • First-Party Special Needs Trust: Funded with the beneficiary’s own assets, often from a personal injury settlement or inheritance.
  • Third-Party Special Needs Trust: Funded with assets from someone other than the beneficiary, such as parents or other family members.
  • Pooled Trust: Managed by nonprofit organizations that pool the resources of many beneficiaries for investment purposes while maintaining individual accounts for each beneficiary.


Establishing a special needs trust in Maryland is a critical component of a comprehensive estate plan for families with a special needs beneficiary. It protects eligibility for government benefits, provides asset protection, offers flexibility and control, ensures professional management, and enhances the beneficiary’s quality of life. By setting up a special needs trust, you can secure your loved one’s financial future and ensure their needs are met according to your wishes.

If you’re considering setting up a special needs trust or need more information on how it can benefit your estate plan, feel free to contact our office. We are here to help you navigate the complexities of estate planning and secure your legacy.

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