Last time we were discussing the Henson Trust, what it is and why it is so very important for our children. Now we will take a look at a couple of practical issues around the use of a Henson Trust.
What if my child has assets now and I need to protect their government benefits now?
In addition to its use in a Will, a Henson Trust can be used as an inter vivos trust vehicle ... meaning a Henson Trust can be used while the settlor (that's you or whoever owns the assets) is still alive. A person can set up a trust for someone else outside of a Will, while they are still alive. And you can use a Henson Trust to do this.
There was one gentleman at the Disability and Estate Planning Seminar who had created a Henson Trust for his son a few years ago. He wanted to test the trust while he was still alive to fight it, just in case there was be any difficulty with the Department of Community Services (DCS). Despite having been told by the DCS that a Henson Trust would not allow his son to keep receiving government benefits, there has been no problem. This supposed issue with the DCS will be discussed in a later post.
If you want to set up a Henson Trust for your child while you are still alive, into which you would presumably transfer assets now as well as anything your child will become entitled to under your Will after your death, make sure that you consult a lawyer. One who is familiar with Henson Trusts and what is required.
As always, and as stated in the side bar, nothing written here is meant to be taken as legal advice or opinion. Its general information. Always consult with a lawyer as to th specifics of your indvidual family situation.
**With grateful acknowledgment to Mr. Ken Pope and the Nova Scotia Downs Syndrome Society for 'bringing him to town'.