Case Examples


Janie sustained a severe closed head injury after being hit by a car while she was riding her bicycle. A lawsuit was filed on her behalf, and a settlement was anticipated. Friends and family conducted fund-raisers to help with her medical expenses, and opened an account in her name at a local bank.

After months in an acute hospital and rehabilitation center, she was ready for transfer to another setting. Janie would only be able to live at home if there were professional caregivers available to assist her family with her care.

Her attorney was aware that a Medicaid program could provide this help, which Janie's parents could not otherwise afford. Her attorney also recognized that the funds in her account were above the resource limit for Medicaid eligibility. Without Medicaid, the anticipated settlement could provide the necessary care for a year or two, but was not enough to provide for Janie's anticipated lifetime needs.

The funds in Janie's account were transferred into a Special Needs Trust, which would also hold the proceeds of the settlement, including future annuity payments. Janie was able to qualify for Medicaid, return home, and obtain the home-based services she needed. Trust funds were used to purchase a van with a wheelchair lift and make modifications to the home.


As a result of trauma at birth, Tony has severe cerebral palsy and is mentally retarded. He is likely to be confined to a wheelchair throughout his life.

Probate court involvement was required to establish a guardianship of the estate for Tony; his mother is the guardian. The probate court approved the establishment of a Special Needs Trust to hold the proceeds of the settlement of the malpractice lawsuit, filed on Tony's behalf, including future annuity payments.

After a thorough investigation, the probate court allowed the trustee (Tony's mother) to purchase land and contract to build a home specially designed to meet Tony's needs. The court also allowed the trust to pay the expenses of a family vacation to Florida.


Joseph, age 42, is disabled by mental illness. He receives a small Social Security Disability check and another check from Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and has both Medicare and Medicaid as his health insurance programs. When Joseph received an inheritance from his grandfather, he was at risk for becoming ineligible for SSI and Medicaid because he had excess resources.

The family's financial planner recommended that he consider establishing a Special Needs Trust. With encouragement, he agreed to deposit his inheritance in the trust so that he could continue to receive government benefits to cover his basic living expenses and medical care and have the trust assets available for special, supplemental needs.

Trust assets were used to purchase a car and a computer for Joseph. The trust continues to pay for car insurance, gasoline, and maintenance for the car.


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