California Special Needs Trusts

California Special Needs Trusts can be used to provide for the needs of disabled individuals, while still allowing them to continue to qualify for important government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. They are often referred to as “Supplemental Needs Trusts” or “Supplemental Care Trusts.” They allow assets to be set aside for an individual who has a disability, without making them ineligible for SSI or Medicaid benefits.

Special Needs Trusts are appropriate when you want to leave assets to a loved one who is disabled. If the loved one is under 65 and receiving SSI or Medicaid benefits because of their disability, then leaving those assets in a trust can help that person maintain eligibility for those benefits. 

Without these trust provisions in place, inherited money would cause your disabled loved one to lose his or her eligibility for government assistance programs. These trusts preserve government assistance eligibility by ensuring that inherited money is used only for “supplemental needs.” This allows your loved one to continue relying on government assistance programs for basic.

California Special Needs Trusts are complex legal documents and should only be prepared by an experienced estate planning attorney. The attorneys of [law firm name] have extensive experience in California estate planning, including creating and administering California Special Needs Trusts. We will work with you and your family to understand your individual circumstances and goals, then develop an estate plan that can protect your loved one with a disability for life.

By setting up and funding this type of trust, you can ensure that the assets you leave behind will be used solely for the benefit of the person with special needs, without affecting their eligibility for government programs like SSI or Medi-Cal. When setting up this type of trust, it’s important to keep in mind that no one will be able to access the assets in this trust until the person with special needs dies—so it’s important not to put any money into it that they may need before then.

The trusts are irrevocable and include maximum flexibility in how they are administered, who can contribute to them, and how the funds can be used.

The trusts include a “self-settled” component, which means that if a disabled individual is able to leave some assets behind when he or she passes away, those assets will not be lost to creditors or ex-spouses.

The trusts allow for fairly unrestricted use of funds for the benefit of the disabled beneficiary so long as the funds are being used to supplement government assistance and not replace it.

The eligibility requirements are strict and unforgiving. If you, a friend or family member have been injured in an accident and has received damages through settlement of a lawsuit, please contact our office to discuss the impact of the settlement on your public benefits.

One way to preserve public benefits eligibility is to create what is called a “Special Needs Trust”. A Special Needs Trust allows a person with disabilities to receive settlement proceeds without losing eligibility for public benefits. It also allows the trust assets to be used for the benefit of the injured party, but not in ways that would disqualify him or her from receiving public assistance. 

The Special Needs Trust can pay for items such as: home improvements; car modifications; education; counseling; computer equipment; travel expenses; care attendants; medical treatment not covered by insurance or government programs; recreation and entertainment activities.

The trust can be made by a family member, friend, or court. It does not have to be made by a lawyer but should be done in writing. The person you want to help must sign the trust too. When this person signs the trust, they agree not to make any changes without telling everyone involved first. If a change is made, everyone has thirty days to tell the court they want it stopped or changed back.

The person with special needs must sign their name on the trust. This will be their signature if they cannot write their own name because of a disability. They must also put their thumbprint on the trust if they do not know how to sign their name because of a disability.

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