Financial Planning and Trusts for Special Needs at Buckley Law

John Buckley, a lawyer who is helping write the law in Colorado pertaining to trusts, graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and later Harvard Law School. He founded Buckley Law, for estate and asset protection planning in the Front Range.


John BuckleyLocated in Colorado Springs, Buckley Law has helped families plan financially for their future since 1994. John and his office-manager wife Melinda love every minute of their legal practice. Buckley Law is strongly committed to serving a family’s requirements, whatever they may be, and he will even meet at a client’s home. As part of the overall practice, John reports that it was just natural to help people with disabilities, as many families would come in and have a family member with special needs.

As John strongly points out, “special needs trust” is too broad a term to use for financial planning for children with disabilities. He prefers narrow language that cannot be misinterpreted. “Special needs” can be expanded to include other issues that a family may face, such as substance abuse or even family feuds. These complicated situations all impact trusts, but in a very different way.

Often, a third-party trust is a good solution for a disability issue. In this type of trust, a third party is the source of the funds being used to fund the trust. The trustee (who could be the parent of the special needs child) distributes the funds to the beneficiary, who is generally a family member (with a disability) of the third party (who could be a grandparent) who formed the trust. In many instances, the family member will be receiving benefits through Social Security and Medicaid. These programs put limits on the assets the family member with a disability can have. So how do you plan for the future and meet supplemental needs for the person in a legally appropriate way, without losing needed assistance today?

A third-party trust, or supplemental trust, is a way to have money to supplement the income of a person with special needs. The trust is called third-party because it is funded, administered and controlled by someone different from the beneficiary. These funds are distributed for other needs that Medicaid won’t cover. For example, Medicaid will not pay for a new car, as it does not provide transportation. If the person with a disability had the car as an asset, depending on the type of car, that could put the person over the income limits to receive Medicaid monthly benefits. Instead, the trust can own a car, which can provide transportation to the family member with special needs. Even alternative therapies, vacations and/or entertainment can be administered in the far or near future. Remember, the key is that the trust supplements governmental benefits with resources that can be used for needs that are not paid by governmental aid. What else does your family member need on top of day-to-day necessities? 

In addition to children born with special needs, another person who may need a supplemental trust is someone who became disabled in an accident and received settlements through the courts in a personal injury lawsuit. Such a person may have been permanently injured by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It might be the right decision for that person to place the proceeds of the settlement in a supplemental trust. Buckley Law helps personal injury attorneys allocate the settlement properly in the first place. 

A supplemental needs trust falls into one of several basic categories. An attorney that deals with different family situations, such as John Buckley, can further analyze your legal situation to set up the right trust or other vehicle for your family’s affairs. 

In conclusion, a child with special needs requires additional planning. You’ll need to plan for the child’s future financial situation and preserve needed benefits, with Buckley Law or someone equally knowledgeable.  

Buckley Law
1277 Kelly Johnson Blvd. Suite 250
Colorado Springs, CO 80920

Because of the generality of the information on this site, it may not apply to a given place, time, or set of facts. It is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations