To you, your child is perfect, and you’ve catered to them their whole life. But what happens when you’re no longer here to protect them? Or when they inherit assets that threaten their eligibility for vital government benefits?

If that’s your reality, a special needs plan can be the guardian angel you need.

Anyone can benefit from making a special needs plan regardless of age, marital status, or income level. To ensure your intentions are carried out, hiring a professional Atlanta special needs planning attorney can be very helpful.

When assets—such as land, money, or other possessions—are handled by one person for the benefit of another, a trust is established. Special needs trusts are created to benefit physically or intellectually impaired beneficiaries incapable of handling their finances. The beneficiary’s particular needs, way of life, and future are all considered while creating the trust.

The term “trustee” refers to the person in charge of the property, and the “beneficiary” is the individual for whose benefit it is intended. The trust continues for however long it is required, which could be until the beneficiary’s passing or the money has been used up.

If you need help with the special needs planning process, consult with a special needs planning attorney today.

Why You Need an Atlanta Special Needs Planning Attorney

Essential benefits, including Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), vocational rehabilitation, and subsidized housing, are usually accessible to those with disabilities. Unfortunately, when a disabled child or other disabled family member inherits assets like large sums of money, it could bar them from participating in these valuable programs.

These problems can be avoided if a special needs trust is established rather than just using a Will. Government program managers, such as those from SSI and Medicaid, disregard the trust assets for determining eligibility because the trustee is in control of managing the money, not the beneficiary. This alone is a good reason to speak to an Atlanta special needs planning lawyer about your estate planning options.

Who Benefits From a Special Needs Trust in Atlanta?

The statistics don’t lie. Fulton had 98,126 persons who were disabled in 2016—the largest number in the state. So, if you’re a caregiver or loved one of a special needs person, know that you are not alone.

Special needs trusts can be established for:

  • Parents who are frail and elderly
  • Children with disabilities
  • Physically or mentally challenged adults
  • Other family members who may need extra care and long-term financial resources

You can take steps to protect your loved one’s future by scheduling a consultation with an Atlanta special needs planning attorney today.

Choose a Special Needs Trust That’s Right for You

The following types of trusts can safeguard your loved one with special needs.

First-Party Special Needs Trusts

A disabled or special needs recipient contributes money of their own to a first-party special needs trust. Hence the designation “first-party.” An alternative name for a self-settled trust is a first-party special needs trust.

In a first-party special needs trust, the sum a client receives from their settlement serves as the trust’s source of financing. A disabled beneficiary of a first-party special needs trust is permitted to transfer assets into the trust without losing their right to receive needs-based assistance from government programs like SSI or Medicaid.

When a person with special needs has assets or anticipates receiving assets that would bar them from receiving public assistance, a first-party special needs trust may be desired.

Here are several instances.

Receiving an Inheritance

Someone with special needs may lose their access to public assistance if they receive an inheritance. Placing the inherited assets in a first-party Special Needs Trust may avert such results.

Receiving a Lawsuit Payout

Someone with special needs may be able to accept an award in a case involving medical negligence or a personal injury settlement without losing their eligibility for government assistance thanks to a first-party SNT. Settlements can include both an annuity and a lump sum payout. Both forms of payment may be made to a first-party SNT that the court has designated.

Receiving a Divorce Settlement

It could be advantageous to include a first-party trust in the divorce settlement if a spouse with special needs is unable to work and is eligible for public assistance. For instance, the monthly alimony may be paid to the trust rather than the spouse. The special needs spouse can then get a monthly SSI benefit and Medicaid coverage for medical costs.

Third-Party Special Needs Trusts

Resources that do not belong to the beneficiary or the beneficiary’s spouse are used to finance a third-party supplementary special needs trust. Also known as a testamentary trust, this is frequently established by the testator’s will.

A third-party supplementary special needs trust, also known as a living trust or inter vivos trust, may be established during the settlor’s lifespan. When several family members want to contribute to the care of a disabled person, inter vivos trusts are useful estate planning instruments.

Pooled Trusts

A non-profit organization manages a pooled special needs trust rather than a single trustee. It is made to ensure that a person who is physically or mentally impaired can continue to receive government assistance. When a person with a disability inherits financial assets or when a family member wants to financially support a loved one with a disability, pooled trusts might be helpful.

Each beneficiary of the trust has a separate account, but the funds are combined or “pooled” for investing and administrative reasons. Better trust management and more reliable investments are now possible as a result.

Additionally, it eliminates the requirement for each recipient to have their own trust. After assets are pooled and invested collectively, funds are allocated to beneficiaries in accordance with their percentage of the overall sum.

How Can Special Needs Trust Funds Be Used in Georgia?

A special needs trust is a legal arrangement that safeguards access to public assistance for special needs individuals, while keeping their access to additional financial resources intact.

These trusts also allow flexibility to fund the following:

  • Alterations to a home
  • Cost of modifying an automobile or van
  • Additional nursing care
  • Additional dietary requirements
  • Costs associated with rehabilitation and occupational therapy services
  • Eyeglasses
  • Furniture purchase for the recipient

Edwards Family Law: Highly Recommended Atlanta Special Needs Planning Attorneys

Regina I. Edwards is an experienced Atlanta special needs planning attorney. In the family law category, Regina I. Edwards was chosen for inclusion on Georgia Super Lawyers’ 2015 Rising Stars list.

Here are our other practice areas:

If you don’t believe us, read testimonials from our clients. We will collaborate with you to develop a special needs estate plan to protect your special needs child’s public benefits and their future.

Schedule a consultation with Edwards Family Law as soon as possible!

Our Locations

Lawrenceville Office
234 Luckie St.
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
Phone: (770) 854-0777
Map and Driving Directions

Buckhead Office
3476 Peachtree Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30326
Phone: (770) 854-0777

We serve clients throughout Georgia for estate planning cases:

  • Fulton County, including:
    • Alpharetta
    • Atlanta
    • Johns Creek
    • Milton
    • Roswell
    • Sandy Springs
  • Gwinnett County, including:
    • Dacula
    • Duluth
    • Lawrenceville
    • Norcross
    • Sugar Hill
    • Snellville
    • Suwanee
  • Cobb County, including:
    •  Austell
    • Kennesaw
    • Mableton
    • Marietta
  • DeKalb County, including:
    • Clarkston
    • Decatur
    • Dunwoody
    • Ellenwood
    • Lithonia
    • Stone Mountain
    • Tucker


cutting through confusion and providing clarity

Do I need a Family Lawyer?

Each case is different, but we can share what clients typically struggle with when they make their initial calls to us:

  • My Spouse Wants a Divorce
  • My Marriage Has Fallen Apart And Cannot Be Fixed
  • I Am Expecting a Child Out Of Wedlock
  • I Have Fallen Behind on Child Support Due to Unemployment or salary reduction
  • My Circumstances Have Changed Drastically And Think A Change Of Custody Is Warranted
  • My Ex Announced They Want to Move Away and Take Our Child

How much will my Divorce or Child Custody matter cost me?

The financial aspect of family law matters can be terrifying because it has been historically known as a black hole of billing with retainers and hourly charges for things like emails and texts. Peel back further uncertainty by Estimating Your Legal Fees.

Flat Fees - No Funny Stuff

While other firms might tell you “there is no way to predict the total cost of a divorce,” we can tell you with certainty that those smoke and mirrors will not be a part of your care at Edwards Family Law. We provide value with a high degree of peace of mind through conscientious costs for our care. Learn more about our Flat Fee Family Law and Estate Planning Services.

Fearful of being bogged down in legal fees?

Heard the horror stories about being sucked in with low retainers only to be hit with hidden incremental hourly changes?

We Have The Right Solutions For The Next Chapter of Your Life


At Edwards Family Law, we understand that your life, family, livelihood and legacy are important to you. They are important to us as well. We are committed to doing everything possible to make sure your identity is respected and that your dignity is preserved at all times throughout the process.

The law prohibits us from guaranteeing the outcome of your case. But, it does not prohibit us from guaranteeing the service you receive. We promise to provide you with the very best in customer service and client relations. We have codified our commitment in our Ten Commandments. If, at any time during your case, we fail to deliver on any of our Ten Commandments, please let us know. We will apologize for our mistake and do what is necessary to fix the problem.

What You Can Expect From Your Experience With Edwards Family Law

  • 1
    What You Can Expect From Your Experience With Edwards Family Law
  • 2
    Clients are not an interruption of our work. They are the purpose of it.
  • 3
    Clients will not be charged for calls to their attorney. Each client shall receive aggressive representation combined with incomparable guidance and counsel.
  • 4
    Our clients will receive the most courteous and attentive treatment we can give them.
  • 5
    Each client will have their telephone call returned within one business day.
  • 6
    All of our attorneys shall practice exclusively family law and domestic relations.
  • 7
    Our clients are not just a name on a file. We will present each client with an honest assessment of all options that can provide them the best chance of success.
  • 8
    Our firm will attend all conferences and Continuing Learning Education Seminars that relate to the practice of Family Law, to ensure that we have access to the most current case law that can affect the lives of you and your family.
  • 9
    Our firm will employ the latest technology for use in your case, to include a secure server where the client’s entire paper file is scanned and posted to the server for immediate retrieval by the client.
  • 10
    Clients are people who bring us their wants. It is our job to meet those wants.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can the trust money be used?

The trustee may spend funds from the trust to buy things your loved one needs. The trustee may purchase goods and services like personal care assistants, trips, furniture for the home, medical and dental costs, education, vehicles, physical treatment, and even leisure activities.

What if my special needs child is sued? Can creditors come after the trust?

You could create a Special Needs Trust to shield your special needs family member from prospective creditors. The assets in the trust would not be available to the plaintiffs, for instance, if your incapacitated beneficiaries were the subject of a personal injury lawsuit.

Can my special needs child set up a trust with their own money?

Yes. A first-party or “self-settled” special needs trust safeguards any significant assets your child may have in their name, such as a court settlement or inheritance, and uses them to pay for the child’s care.


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