Miller Trusts and ALTCS Special Needs Trusts
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Senior Planning is licensed under the Supreme Court of Arizona to provide legal documents. While we do not and cannot give legal advice, Senior Planning is able to offer an affordable solution to many people in need of legal documents, including Miller Trusts and Special Needs Trusts.
Some seniors have income from Social Security or a pension that is in excess of the income limit for ALTCS. When a person is over income, they must create what is known as either a Miller Trust, a Qualified Income Trust, or an Income Only Trust before they can become eligible for the ALTCS benefit. Miller Trusts do not deal with assets, but are a way to lower one’s income so they can qualify for state benefits.
What is ALTCS?
For seniors or people with disabilities (who are unable to care for themselves), the Arizona Long Term Care System (ALTCS) is a program designed to get people the care they need. It is a supplemental Medicaid benefit that pays for either in-home care or care at a long-term care facility. To qualify, an applicant must show medical and financial need. While this sounds simple, the application can be exceedingly difficult. Many people who apply on their own are found to be ineligible and as a result, miss out on this much needed benefit. However, Senior Planning has extensive experience applying to ALTCS and can assist with the entire application.
How does a Miller Trust Work?
The first step is to establish an income only trust/miller trust. To establish the trust, the trust document must be created. This can be done by a qualified attorney or document preparation firm such as Senior Planning. This trust will later be used to open up an income only trust bank account. The trust allows individuals over the ALTCS income threshold to qualify for state benefits.
Once the trust document is complete, a trust bank account must be opened. A Miller Trust uses a special bank account which keeps any excess money over the ALTCS limit. Any money that is left in the account after the death of a person using a Miller Trust will be paid to the state of Arizona. This allows people that are a few dollars over the income limit to qualify for the benefits they need. Again, a Miller Trust only deals with income, not assets such as a house or a car.
Special Needs Trusts
Sometimes, people who are unable to manage their own financial affairs for reasons of disability may benefit from an ALTCS special needs trust. ALTCS Special needs trusts are commonly set up when the parents of a developmentally disabled adult wish to ensure their child has a good financial future once the parents can no longer care for them. ALTCS Special needs trusts make sure the beneficiary of the trust does not lose important state or federal benefits if their circumstances temporarily change. Usually, a family member or trusted friend is the trustee for a special needs trust on the disabled person’s behalf. Special needs trusts are also sometimes called supplemental needs trusts. Depending on circumstance, a special needs trust can also be used to receive an inheritance or settlement without the disabled person losing benefits they may be using.
Miller Trusts and Special Needs Trusts FAQ
What can Miller Trust Money be used for?
The money in a Miller Trust can be used to pay for long-term care expenses, medical expenses, and Medicare or insurance premiums. Sometimes, the money can be used to provide a small monthly needs allowance depending on a person’s overall income. Generally, once a person is approved for ALTCS, the state will help explain how the money in a Miller Trust is to be used so a person does not get thrown off the ALTCS program.
Who is the Trustee in an Income Only Trust?
Usually, the designated trustee is an immediate family member or close relative. If no family is available, sometimes a person will choose a friend. The trustee is responsible for making sure the money in the Miller Trust is used to pay the ALTCS recipient’s share of cost, personal needs allowance, insurance or Medicare premiums, a spouse’s monthly needs allowance, or anything else not automatically covered by Medicaid.
When should you set up a Special Needs Trust?
If you have a loved one with special needs, you may want to consider setting up a special needs trust so they will be provided for after you die. Not only will the trust help support the person, but it will also allow them to seek government benefits or remain on certain benefits if necessary. Keeping an inheritance in a correctly drawn up trust will not affect Social Security Income or an ALTCS recipient’s benefits.
What makes a Special Needs Trust Different?
As a special needs trust is a type of trust, the trust structure may be similar to other, more familiar trusts. A special needs trust, however, is used to specifically help a person with physical or mental disabilities (special needs). A special needs trust is typically used to bequeath an inheritance to a person without preventing them from receiving or applying for government benefits. The trust is usually managed by a third party.