Special Needs Trusts & Guardianships

A Special Needs Trust allows an individual with disabilities to receive public benefits, but still have funds to supplement those benefits, enhance their quality of life, and improve their situation. A Special Needs Trust (SNT) can be used to provide better housing, private caregivers, and advanced medical treatments. In Illinois, more than $2000 in assets will disqualify a disabled person from receiving government benefits. Therefore, an inheritance or settlement should be placed in a SNT. It is also critical that families with special needs children plan in advance through their estate plan to ensure their special needs child or loved one will be taken care of at their death and that such funds remain in the family. This trust keeps your loved one eligible to receive government benefits and protects the money so it can be used for other essentials that are not covered by public benefits. A few reasons why this type of trust is recommended are: planning for a loved one who is disabled, receipt of an inheritance while disabled, receipt of a personal injury settlement, or malpractice settlement.

Ensuring the care of a disabled family member is important, but planning for those special needs can be a challenge. Special Needs Trust is a way to ensure that the needs of a disabled loved one are taken care of.


In the event a person does not have the capacity to make competent decisions about their finances, healthcare, or daily living, he or she may be declared legally disabled by the court. A guardian would be appointed to make decisions for the disabled individual. Being declared disabled can only be done through a court process, and the process requires a knowledgeable attorney who understands the legal system.

Often adult guardianships are required over one’s personal and estate when the individual has failed to plan ahead through the preparation of powers of attorney for finance and healthcare.

When a child receives an inheritance or other source of funds prior to 18 years of age, a guardianship must be established in order to protect the funds until the child turns 18.