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John J. Standifer Jr.   Attorney at Law

Common sense, results-driven legal counsel


Contact John Standifer today to discuss any legal issues for which you may need counsel.  

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Telephone 520 792-2450        Facsimile 520 882-4408     2720 E Broadway Blvd. Tucson, AZ 85716       John@JStandifer.com

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Contact Arizona Trust Attorney John Standifer to learn how a special needs trust might help your loved one.

Special needs trusts can benefit elders or children.

Special Needs Trusts

What is a Special Needs Trust?

​Special needs trusts (or supplemental needs trusts) are trusts set up for the benefit of a beneficiary who is unable to manage their own affairs.  This lack of mental capacity to manage affairs may be due to disability, mental illness or chronic illness. 

Supplement needs trusts have been officially recognized throughout the U.S. since 1993 as a way to provide care for people with special needs.  Trust funds may not be paid directly to the beneficiary but can be used on their behalf for items like medical care, food, entertainment and education as well as clothing, food, and housing.


Who can set up a special needs trust?

Many special needs trusts are set up for children with disabilities so that families know they will be well cared for in the future.  Special needs trusts are typically arranged by parents, grandparents or a guardian, but in some cases a sibling, friend or even a caregiver puts the trust in place. 

Who owns a special needs trust?


The beneficiary of the trust does not own the trust – this is a key component of the special needs trust.  Instead, the parent or grandparent owns the trust and directs that funds be spent to meet the needs of the beneficiary.


How long does a special needs trust last?

A special needs trust is an irrevocable trust, meaning funds placed in trust cannot be taken back.  A special needs trust lasts as long as needed – or until funds are depleted.  (Under certain circumstances, a special needs trust may include provisions for termination of the trust - be sure to talk with an attorney if you feel this is important.)

Who is the trustee of a Special needs trust? 

The trustee of a special needs trust can be a family member or a third party appointed by the court.  Under a special needs trust, the trustee handles finances for the beneficiary and makes purchases for the benefit of the beneficiary. 

Benefits of a Supplemental Needs Trust

  • A special needs trust simplifies financial care
  • A special needs trust can ensure that your loved one does not lose any government  benefits they are now receiving or that might be due them – benefits like Medicaid, SSI or subsidized housing
  • A special needs trust – by law – is designed to ensure that the beneficiary has opportunities for a healthy, rich life
  • Funds in a special needs trust are not subject to seizure by creditors or a law suit


Cooperative or Pooled Trusts

You may be approached by a nonprofit to become part of their cooperative or pooled trust.  While these trusts may fit some needs, please be aware that the track record for many of these efforts has not been good.  Do your homework carefully.  It may be worth your time to make an appointment to have our office meet with you to determine your needs and review the trust in question with your needs in mind.

Proper wording for a special needs trust is critical

There are a number of important statements that must be included in a special needs trust to ensure that it works correctly. For example, a special needs trust must state that it is for “supplemental care.”  Poorly worded trust documents can put your loved one in jeopardy of  “look back” by certain government agencies which can then withhold funds for up to 5 years.

 Anyone can set up a special needs trust – however, an attorney familiar with special needs trusts will be able to ensure that the trust is properly configured to meet requirements for estate taxes, social security and Medicaid, protect your loved one from lawsuits, and provide for your loved one in the way you intend.


Special Needs Trust Attorney John Standifer has the experience you need to create Special Needs Trusts Arizona.

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