Special Needs Beneficiary - Case Study

Kelsey was born with a rare genetic disorder that left her with significant physical and cognitive disabilities. Her parents, who loved her dearly, knew that they would need to provide for her long after they were gone. They began working with an attorney to establish a special needs trust for Kelsey’s benefit and with First Covenant to handle the duties of the trustee of that trust.

The trust was designed to ensure that Kelsey would have resources needed to live a comfortable and fulfilling life, while still maintaining her eligibility for government benefits. Kelsey’s private benefits were also at stake, because her eligibility for several helpful programs was tied to her eligibility for SSI (Supplemental Security Income).

Despite the necessity of wrestling with difficult issues during the planning process, upon getting a plan in place Kelsey’s parents experienced a profound sense of relief and peace knowing that Kelsey would be well cared for when the day came that they would not be able to provide for her themselves.

When Kelsey’s parents eventually died, her special needs trust was funded with assets from her parents’ estate, life insurance, as well as some smaller contributions from other family members. The trust has been a lifeline for Kelsey. It provides for her medical care, including surgeries, physical therapy, and specialized equipment. It also allows her to participate in activities that many take for granted, such as going to the movies, attending concerts, and taking vacations. One of the most significant benefits of the trust, however, has been Kelsey’s sense of independence. Because the trust preserves and supplements the benefits available for her basic needs, she has been able to live in her own apartment with the assistance of a caregiver. This has allowed her to develop a sense of autonomy and self-confidence that would not have been possible otherwise.

Through the process, First Covenant has been working closely with Kelsey’s family and caregivers to understand her needs and goals, and to ensure that the trust is being administered in a way that best serves her interests. Covenant navigates complex government benefit rules and regulations, ensuring that Kelsey continues receiving the support she needs, while preserving and investing the assets of the trust for her future. Kelsey’s loved ones have come to appreciate how crucial a knowledgeable and experienced trustee is in administering a trust of this nature—a trustee which not only has expertise in financial matters but also a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by those with special needs.

Despite her challenges, Kelsey is thriving. She has a contagious zest for life, and her infectious smile and positive attitude have touched the hearts of all who know her. The special needs trust has truly been a blessing for Kelsey and her family, and serves as a testament to the power of planning and foresight in caring for loved ones with special needs.