I was honored to talk with the Down Syndrome Support Team (DSST) in Saline this past Sunday about estate planning when you have special needs in your family. Many families have children that may require or presently require assistance outside of what the family can provide. This can be either while the child is still a minor, or when they become an adult. Unfortunately many of the programs require a "poverty" level economic status--and will not allow qualification unless assets are under a certain amount of money. However, there are solutions to this potential or real problem, in the form of special needs estate planning. First, the family can set up an Amenities Trust. An Amenities Trust is a special type of trust that is designed to provide supplemental benefits to an individual with special needs who may be entitled to SSI (Supplemental Security Income), SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), and/or Medicaid). "Amenities" are various sorts of items that are not food or shelter, so it can include non-grocery items, education, transportation, vacation, etc. It also does not involve a direct transfer of cash. Amenities Trusts are generally used by parents with special needs children. A second option is what is called an OBRA 93 Trust. An OBRA 93 Trust is a special type of Trust that is designed to protect an individual's own assets when that individual has special needs and either receives or qualifies for certain benefits, such as SSI, SSDI or Medicaid. There are differences between an OBRA 93 Trust and an Amenities Trust, and those should be discussed with a lawyer in order to determine what Trust is more suitable. It is an honor to assist families with special needs children, and provide them with options so that they can share their love freely and provide for their children even if something happens and they aren't here anymore. You can learn more about the Down Syndrome Support Team at their website: http://www.downsyndromesupportteam.com/.