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Drafting a Special Needs Trust: First Steps

There are many ways to plan for your future and for your children. Those who have children with special needs sometimes have a lot more on their plates, especially when it comes to planning the future of their children.

That's what special needs trusts are for. They are essentially trusts that allow the parent to put aside a certain amount for a child with special needs.

These trusts are designed to give the child income for a set period of time without losing access to state assistance.

A special needs trust is not that easy to draft. That's why a good first step is to educate yourself about such trusts, and then consider approaching an attorney who can help with your plan.

Here are a few first steps in creating a special needs trust, that won't cost you a dime:

  1. Online calculators. There are several free online calculators available to help you figure out how to plan your special needs trust. Companies like Merrill Lynchand MetLife have online calculators to help you figure out special needs financing and savings, The New York Times reports. Some financial services companies even train their investment advisors on financing issues for special needs trusts.

  2. Check out some online forms. You're more likely to find basic estate planning forms out there, but at least they'll give you an idea of what to expect. What's tricky about special needs trusts is that each situation is different and no one form can really serve all families equally.

  3. Learn more about trusts. Special needs planning can be very complex, and a special needs trust is just one option available to you. There are other types of trusts as well, which may also be helpful for your particular situation. FindLaw's Trusts section offers a wealth of knowledge on the topic to help you make well-informed decisions about your trust and estate planning.

Once you've become familiar with the basic concepts of a special needs trust, or if you're still confused, you will likely need to consult an attorney, some of whom offer free initial consultations. You can look up New York estate planning lawyers in our free online directory.

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