Special needs trusts are typically set up by a parent, or parents, of a disabled child. These trusts are irrevocable, meaning they must endure throughout the child's lifetime. Sometimes, however, special needs trusts include early termination clauses. These clauses are usually included to allow the trustee to dissolve the trust, particularly when continuing to make distributions prevents the child from obtaining disability benefits.
Locate a copy of the trust document. If the document has an early termination clause, you have a better chance of convincing a judge to dissolve the trust; however, there must be sufficient cause to dissolve the trust, as outlined in the early termination clause.
Prepare to make your case. If you're not the trustee of the trust, you will have a more difficult time convincing the court to dissolve the trust. If you're seeking to dissolve the trust to ensure the beneficiary is eligible for government benefits, prepare to argue that point.
Contact the court where the trust document was registered. In many states, probate courts have jurisdiction over trusts. In other states, trusts are overseen by an orphan's court. The court where the trust document was registered is typically listed on the trust document. Ask the clerk of the court about scheduling a hearing; make sure you ask the clerk to assist you regarding necessary forms and procedure.
Sometimes, special needs trusts can be dissolved if the beneficiary is no longer disabled or capable of taking care of himself. If this is the case, prepare to argue that the trust is no longer necessary due to the fact that the beneficiary is now capable of living independently.
Only a court can terminate a special needs trust. As such, attempting to dissolve the trust without court approval will result in liability on your part.
- USLegal: Special Needs Trust Law & Legal Definition
- The Law Office of Catherine E. Davey, P.A: Frequently Asked Questions About Special Needs Trusts
- Law Office of Donald D. Vanarelli Blog; New POMS On Early Termination Of Special Needs Trusts; July 2010
- Philadelphia Estate Practitioner Handbook: Irrevocable Special Needs Trust for the Benefit of Lisa Dunn