Special needs planning helps to take care of a loved one or child with special needs. Their care and comfort need to be planned for the future, when caretakers may no longer be able to help them or have passed on. While it is easy to ensure the person gets money and assets, often a bequest like this will bar the person from qualifying for essential benefits under federal social assistance programs, provincial programs and municipal programs. However, these same programs only provide the bare essentials – clothing, food and a roof over their head.
To enrich the life of a special needs person with other resources, there are rules that allow assets to be held in trust. These are usually referred to as absolute discretionary trusts, and will assist a special needs person as long as certain requirements are met. The special needs trust is specifically drafted and designed to supplement public benefits, not to replace them. Funds in this kind of a trust may not be given directly to the person in need. They must be given to a third party that provides the goods/services.
Examples of other supplements a special needs person would enjoy are going to church, transportation, supplemental tutoring and education, money for trips, special diet requirements, entertainment and a personal care attendant.