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Many Minnesota residents have a relative or friend who is physically or mentally disabled. As a result, many Minnesotans may wonder how they can provide financial support for these individuals. It is important to understand special needs trusts and supplemental needs trusts so that one can provide financial resources to a disabled individual without depriving them of their legal rights to government benefits.

What Is the Purpose of a Special Needs Trust or Supplemental Needs Trust?

In general, a trust is a legal device where a trustee manages money or property on behalf of a beneficiary. Special needs trusts or supplemental needs trusts are trusts that are created to provide support for individuals with disabilities without risking their ability to qualify for future government benefits including: social security; SSI; Medicare; Medicaid; and more. If a special needs trust or supplemental needs trust is properly created and operated, the assets that are placed in the trust cannot be considered by the government in determining the beneficiary’s eligibility for government benefits. This is especially important if a disabled individual becomes the recipient of a gift, inheritance, or settlement from a civil lawsuit, because such funds could be transferred to the trust without negating one’s prospects of obtaining government benefits.

What Is the Difference Between a Special Needs Trust and a Supplemental Needs Trust?

The main difference between a special needs trust and a supplemental needs trust is how they are funded. For a special needs trust, the trust’s funds must belong to the beneficiary. Examples are funds received from an inheritance or an insurance policy in which the disabled individual is a beneficiary. For a supplemental needs trust, the trust’s funds can belong to someone other than the beneficiary, such as a relative or friend.

What Kind of Expenses can Special Needs Trusts and Supplemental Needs Trusts Be Used For?

Overall, supplemental needs trusts and special needs trusts must be used for the purpose of supplementing rather than replacing government assistance. Therefore, funds from either of these funds cannot be used for any expenses that government benefits will cover. In other words, the major purpose of these funds is to provide the beneficiary with comfort/luxury expenses while still enabling the beneficiary to receive government benefits for basic necessities.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Special Needs Trust or a Supplemental Needs Trust?

This blog post only covers the surface of special needs trusts and supplemental needs trusts. If these trusts are not properly drafted and managed, beneficiaries can be deprived of important government benefits. Therefore, it is important to obtain legal counsel to make sure that one navigates all of the legal requirements and pitfalls that come with these trusts. Luckily, the law firm of Dudley and Smith, P.A. has experienced estate-planning attorneys that can help. Contact our firm to determine your prospects of developing a special needs or supplemental needs trust.

My Child Was Injured at School or During a School Activity, What Can I Do?

Nothing is more stressful than finding out that one’s child has been injured. This stress can turn into anger when one finds out that there child was injured at school or during a school activity, This blog post explores the prospect of bringing action against a school or a school district for child injuries that occur either at school or during school activities.

Can Schools or School Districts be Civilly Liable for Injuries at School or During School Activities?

Schools and school districts have a duty of reasonable care to protect their students, which includes proper maintenance and supervision of school activities. This can apply to activities that occur on school grounds, e.g., playground activities, or off grounds such as bus rides, sports, and other school events. When a school or school district breaches this duty of reasonable care, it should incur liability. Some accidents are more than just “kids being kids” and are accountable to a school or school district’s negligence such as defective equipment, inadequate supervision, failure to maintain the premises, failure to provide warning signs about dangerous conditions, and failure to properly train staff.

What Kind of Damages are Recoverable for School Injuries?

Various types of damages are available for child injuries suffered at school or during a school activity including lost wages from helping a child recovery, emotional damages for pain and suffering, and medical expenses.

Isn’t it Wrong to Bring a Legal Action Against My Child’s School?

Parents might be hesitant to bring a legal claim against a school where the child might otherwise have fond memories. Parents might also be afraid of diminishing a school’s finances and negatively affecting the lives of other students and their parents. However, it is important to note that in a practical sense, parents are not really bringing their legal claims against a school. Any school either will have coverage from its own insurance policy or its school district’s policy. Therefore, as opposed to seeking compensation from the school, parents are really filing a claim against the school’s insurer.

Why Should I Hire a Lawyer to Pursue My Claim?

The answer to this question also involves insurance. An insurance company is a business that will always try to mitigate its losses. Therefore, parents who want to file a claim for their child’s playground injuries will face heavy opposition from the school’s insurance company. The assistance of a skilled and experienced legal advocate is the only way to neutralize an insurer’s resistance. Thankfully, some of Dudley and Smith P.A.’s attorneys, Katherine Brown Holmen and Joseph J. Dudley Jr., have extensive experience in pursuing legal claims for injuries that occur at school or during school activities. Contact Katherine if your child has been injured at school or during a school activity.