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A Guide to Understanding Special Needs Trust: Why is it not enough?

February 2, 2024

Imagine having laid out a meticulous plan for your loved one’s future, assuming everything is set up, only to have their world could crumble when you’re no longer there. 

Jamie’s folks set up a Special Needs Trust & Wills to ensure Jamie was all set for the future. And when Jamie’s parents died, her entire world turned upside down.

With the support of her sibling, Jamie was able to rebuild her life after a three-year struggle… 

…you don’t have to make this your loved ones’ narrative.

What is a Special Needs Trust? (USA)

A Special Needs Trust (STN), also known as a Supplemental Needs Trust, is typically set up by a parent that ensures that assets, often money or a life insurance policy, are held in an account and used to support the child.

Assets in an SNT are kept in trust and managed by a trustee on behalf of your loved one. 

With a STN our loved one’s government benefits, like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income, are protected and still received by your loved one without jeopardizing eligibility.

The trustee may utilize the assets to augment the individual’s needs not covered by government assistance, such as medical expenditures, education, and leisure activities.

What is a Henson Trust? (Canada)

A Henson Trust, named after a Canadian law case, is similar to a Special Needs Trust in that it is intended to offer financial support to those with disabilities while maintaining their eligibility for government benefits. 

And yes, a STN or Henson Trust is important for your loved one, but there is additional planning and action that you must take so that your loved one can live their best life.

Three (3) Additional Important Actions to Secure Your Loved One’s Future

1. Preparing Your Loved One For Independence

Jamie’s life was thrown into a mess since her parents left. So this is why it is so important to help your loved one grow their independence, and reduce dependencies on you. And yes, this takes time – but it is something that you can start doing now. 

Help them build their confidence and teach them essential skills that will enable them to become more self-sufficient. The goal is to have them do various routines and activities that will make them self-sufficient along the way. 

Start with small baby steps because even the slightest progress today will multiply many times over in the future.

2. Create a Life Plan on How Trust Funds Will Be Used

While Trusts promise financial stability for your loved one, things can go sideways if the designated trustee isn’t aware of your specific intentions for the money. 

Additionally, you want to include the trustee in creating a Life Plan for your loved one. A Life Plan maps out the vision, dreams, goals, and aspirations for your loved one’s life. That way they will know what is best for your loved one, and the funds can be spent to help your loved one live their best life.

In this example, Jamie’s sibling could have been invited in to the Life Planning process.

You can get a copy of my free Life Planning 101 Guide here.

3. Build a Safety Net of Freely Given Relationships

Jamie’s sibling had to try and figure everything out on their own.

It would have been much better for Jamie and her sibling if there were additional freely-given and loving relationships there to help make decisions and support Jamie.

I call this a personal support network or support circle. You can read more about it in the free Life Planning Guide here

Watch the full video below for an in-depth understanding of these steps and more… 

With careful planning and the right resources, you can take the additional steps needed to ensure your loved one’s stability, security, and happiness – no matter what the future holds. 

Click below to watch the short video:

P.S. Help your loved one with a disability to live a safe and secure life by getting my Life Planning 101 guide!

-> Download My Free Life Planning 101 Guide


  • I have the Trust setup, but now that I have taken your course I know what changes I need to make to have better planned security for my son. Thank you, Eric.

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