Q: I have left each of my grandchildren $10,000 in my Will. A friend recently told me this will cause a problem for my grandson Jared who has Down Syndrome. Is this true?
A: It is quite possible that Jared’s receipt of $10,000 from your estate following your death could create a problem for him. The reason is that individuals with disabilities such as Down Syndrome are often eligible for valuable governmental benefits and services. However, many of these benefits are ‘needs based.’ That means that in order to be eligible for the benefit or service, the individual can have only limited assets and income. A person who receives a gift of money or property may lose his eligibility, and may need to spend that money on services before he will be eligible again. That does not mean that you need to exclude Jared from your Will. A supplemental needs trust can be used to hold or receive money for a person with a disability to ensure that those valuable governmental benefits are not lost, while allowing the trust funds to be used for the benefit of the disabled person to pay for things his benefits may not cover. You should discuss this with your estate planning attorney to be sure you are doing the right thing for your grandson.