A person, of any age, may benefit from a Special Needs Trusts. There are three types of Special Needs Trusts (SNT), used by people living with a physical, mental or intellectual disability. The person who will benefit from the establishment of a SNT is called the “beneficiary”. A Trust can make the difference between existing and actually living a good quality of life.

The beneficiary’s disability, personal assets, and monetary gifts to-be-received,
determine which type of special needs trust can be clearly created. Unless these funds are in a SNT, the beneficiary may lose government-related benefits and be required to pay medical bills and countless other expenses until those assets have been “spent down” to $2,000.

Pooled Special Needs Trusts

A pooled SNT is funded with assets specifically owned by the beneficiary. Pooled trusts are established and managed by a nonprofit organization who serves as trustee. There is no age qualification for this type of trust. However, there is a Medicaid payback requirement when the beneficiary dies and has money remaining in the trust.

First Party Special Needs Trusts

A first party SNT is funded with assets owned by the trust beneficiary. The beneficiary must be under 65 years of age at the time the SNT is funded and must be physically, mentally, or intellectually disabled. There is a Medicaid payback requirement if the trust is open and funded at the time of the beneficiary’s death.

Third Party Supplemental Needs Trusts

A third party SNT is funded with assets that are not owned by the trust beneficiary. The person who created the third party SNT has complete discretion in the selection of the trust remainder beneficiaries. There is no age limit in creating this trust and there is no Medicaid payback.


A special needs trust is established for or by someone living with a physical, mental, or intellectual disability (special needs) to supplement any benefits the person may receive from government programs.

Certainly, every person living with a disability is unique. This means that every special needs trust is going to be different, as well. The best way to determine which special needs trust is best for the beneficiary is to meet with a qualified professional and to choose a reputable trustee to manage the trust.