Georgia court ruling shows benefits of special needs trusts

When parents know their children are in need, they will likely want to do something to help. Even when kids are adults, their parents just want make sure they are happy and healthy. If a child has special needs, the desire to provide support -- in all forms -- is likely heightened.

People with special needs may face a variety of challenges, including difficulty finding full-time work and keeping up with health care expenses. A special needs trust can be established by parents to provide a consistent stream of funds to their children as they need it. A recent court decision in Georgia serves as a reminder of how these trusts can be put to use.

In March 2010, a group of Georgia residents sued the state for failing to provide adequate mental health services. Specifically, the state didn't make accommodations for people needing treatment for behavioral and developmental disorders who were also blind.

The individuals who sued already received a judgment in their favor in 2012, but the state tried to undermine the ruling by filing to uncertify the class. In the end, the court reaffirmed their decision in support of the plaintiffs, so the state will have to take measures to rectify the situation.

According to the lawsuit, the state failed to provide access to home care that incorporates the use of sign language. By establishing a special needs trust when a person is young, family members can ensure that funding is provided to individuals who need care, even after the grantor passes away. The legal arrangement could help provide support when public programs are not sufficient.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Class of Deaf & Disabled Suing Georgia Upheld," Iulia Filip, Aug. 23, 2013

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