Understanding ODSP and Inheritance: Key Considerations 


The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) provides financial assistance and support to individuals with disabilities in Ontario, Canada. One of the crucial aspects of managing ODSP benefits is understanding how receiving an inheritance can impact these benefits. In this blog post, we will explore the relationship between ODSP and inheritance, providing insights and considerations to help beneficiaries navigate this complex issue. 


ODSP Overview 

ODSP is designed to help individuals with disabilities cover basic living expenses, such as housing, food, and medical costs. The program offers two main types of assistance: income support and employment support. Income support is the primary focus when discussing how inheritances can affect ODSP benefits. 


Inheritance and ODSP: General Rules 

When an ODSP recipient receives an inheritance, it can potentially affect their eligibility for benefits. ODSP has specific rules and asset limits that beneficiaries must adhere to in order to continue receiving assistance. Here are some key points to consider: 


Asset Limits 

ODSP has set asset limits to determine eligibility for benefits. As of the most recent guidelines, a single person on ODSP can have up to $40,000 in liquid assets, while a couple can have up to $50,000. Liquid assets include cash, savings, investments, and other assets that can be easily converted to cash. An inheritance, depending on its form, could increase a beneficiary’s assets above these limits, potentially impacting their ODSP eligibility. 


Exempt Assets 

Certain assets are exempt from these limits and do not affect ODSP eligibility. For example, a principal residence, one motor vehicle, and necessary household items are considered exempt. When planning for an inheritance, it’s essential to understand which assets are exempt to better manage the impact on ODSP benefits. 

Strategies to Manage Inheritance and ODSP 

To ensure that an inheritance does not disrupt ODSP benefits, several strategies can be employed. Here are some approaches to consider: 

1. Setting Up a Henson Trust 

A Henson Trust, also known as an absolute discretionary trust, is a popular tool for protecting ODSP benefits. In a Henson Trust, the assets are controlled by a trustee, who has complete discretion over how and when the funds are used for the beneficiary’s benefit. Since the beneficiary does not have direct access to the funds, the assets in the trust are not counted towards the ODSP asset limits. This allows the beneficiary to receive the inheritance without jeopardizing their ODSP benefits. 

2. Spending Down Inheritance 

Another approach is to spend down the inheritance on exempt assets or necessary expenses. For instance, the beneficiary could use the funds to pay off debts, purchase a principal residence, or invest in a vehicle. By converting the inheritance into exempt assets, the recipient can remain within the ODSP asset limits while improving their quality of life. 

3. Structured Settlements 

If the inheritance is in the form of a lump sum, another strategy is to set up a structured settlement. This involves converting the lump sum into a series of periodic payments, which may be easier to manage and less likely to exceed asset limits. Careful planning is necessary to ensure that the periodic payments do not disrupt ODSP benefits. 

Reporting Requirements 

ODSP recipients must report any changes in their financial situation, including receiving an inheritance. Failure to report an inheritance can lead to overpayments and potential penalties. It’s crucial to inform ODSP promptly and work with a financial advisor or legal professional to manage the inheritance appropriately. 

Legal and Financial Advice 

Navigating the intersection of ODSP and inheritance can be complex. It is highly recommended that beneficiaries seek legal and financial advice to ensure compliance with ODSP rules and to make informed decisions. Professionals can help in setting up trusts, managing assets, and developing strategies that align with the beneficiary’s long-term goals and needs. 


Receiving an inheritance while on ODSP requires careful planning and consideration. By understanding ODSP’s rules and asset limits, utilizing strategies such as Henson Trusts, and seeking professional advice, beneficiaries can protect their benefits and make the most of their inheritance. Managing an inheritance responsibly can enhance the quality of life for individuals with disabilities while ensuring continued support from ODSP. 

Whether you are a beneficiary, a family member, or a trustee, being informed and proactive can help navigate the complexities of ODSP and inheritance, ensuring financial stability and peace of mind for the future.