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California Special Needs Trust Lawyer

Bay Area special needs trust lawyer

Estate Planning Attorney for Parents of Children With Special Needs Throughout California

Providing for one's family and dependents is a major priority for many people in the creation of an estate plan, but it is especially important for those who are responsible for a family member with special needs who is unable to provide for him or herself. Unfortunately, some estate planning methods can actually be disadvantageous to a beneficiary with special needs. You should be careful to choose the right strategy that ensures your loved one has the resources they need for their care when you are no longer around.

A special needs trust (SNT) is usually the best option for distributing assets to a person with special needs, but creating one can be complicated. At the Law Office of David Schechet, our principal attorney has 35 years of legal experience and graduated from UCLA Law School with highest honors. We use our knowledge to help our clients take all of the required steps to create special needs trusts that provide for the best interests of their loved ones.

When Are Special Needs Trust Necessary?

Clearly, considering a child or dependent with special needs in your estate plan is important. However, the usual means of passing assets to your beneficiaries, including a will or revocable living trust, can do more harm than good. Many people with special needs rely on governmental disability benefits to assist with their basic needs. However, programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, have maximum eligibility thresholds for the recipient's income and available resources. Inheritances and trust distributions can disqualify them by causing them to exceed those thresholds.

The advantage of a special needs trust (SNT) is that it can be structured in a way that allows your beneficiary to continue qualifying for disability benefits like SSI and Medi-Cal. When you establish an SNT, you will choose a trustee to manage the trust's assets and control how they are distributed to your beneficiary. It is important to ensure that your beneficiary does not have the authority to revoke the trust, or to decide for himself or herself how the funds will be used. With these provisions established, the assets held in the trust will not count toward the beneficiary's available resources, and strategic distributions will not count toward their monthly income.

Types of Special Needs Trusts

A trust that you establish with your own assets for the purposes of supporting a person with special needs is known as a third-party SNT. This is the most common type of SNT in an estate plan, and it also provides the most control and protection of the assets, as you can name a trustee of your choosing and define what happens to any remaining assets at the time of the beneficiary's death.

However, sometimes it is necessary to establish an SNT using assets that already belong to the person with special needs, including funds from an injury settlement or another inheritance. This is known as a first-party or self-settled SNT, and it provides many of the same advantages as a third-party SNT. However, in the event of the beneficiary's death, the remaining assets in the trust must be used to reimburse the state for Medi-Cal benefits provided. With this in mind, a third-party SNT is usually a better choice if you have the option.

Contact a California Special Needs Trust Attorney

If you need advice on the right estate planning strategy for your special needs child or assistance with the creation of a special needs trust, we can help. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our office today at 800-282-4731. We provide estate planning services throughout California, and we can work with you in the comfort of your own home.

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