If you’re a parent or legal guardian of someone with special needs, you probably do your share of worrying. Aside from concerns about what might happen to them, there’s always what can happen to you and what could happen next.

The Colorado and federal legal systems have encountered these questions many times before and have developed tools to help you prepare for the future so you can worry a little less.

Special needs trusts have a special purpose

Many people with special needs receive government benefits for which you might think they’d be no longer eligible if they received an inheritance.

But inheritances are rarely so large that they eliminate the real need for government benefits. Besides, people with special needs often can’t manage such assets effectively without some help.

Special needs trusts, or disability trusts, were invented to handle just such a “catch 22” situation.

Of course, not everyone with special needs gets public benefits and their family isn’t interested in changing that. Special needs trusts are often still well suited for those families. Besides, a main goal of a trust is to be prepared for anything, even changed circumstances.

Essential features of special needs trusts

Unlike other kinds of trusts, a special needs trust designates a trustee that will retain total control over the funds. Because the beneficiary is given no control, government entities don’t consider the inheritance when determining the beneficiary’s eligibility for benefits.

Special needs trusts come in a variety of types that allow for a great deal of flexibility in configuring the plan for a person who, after all, is said to have individual, unique, special needs.

For example, a person who has special needs and expects an inheritance might set up their own trust and name a person or organization as the trustee. In particular, a “pooled trust” is managed by a non-profit organization and is often used when no suitable trustee can be identified.