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Special Needs Planning

Special Needs Planning

A Third-Party Special Needs Trust can be established by one person for the benefit of another. The person establishing the trust, called the settlor (or grantor or, sometimes, trustor) chooses to make some of his or her own assets available for the benefit of the disabled beneficiary. Third-Party Special Needs Trusts are often established, for example, by parents for their developmentally disabled children.

These trusts are designed so that the beneficiary does not become disqualified for their public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medi-Cal.

We can help you set up a Special Needs Trust so that government benefit eligibility is preserved while at the same time providing assets that will meet the supplemental needs of the person with a disability (those that go beyond food, shelter, and clothing and the medical and long-term supports and services of Medi-Cal). The Special Needs Trust can fund those additional needs. In fact, the Special Needs Trust must be designed specifically to supplement, not replace public benefits. Parents should be aware that funds from the trust cannot be distributed directly to the disabled beneficiary. Instead, they must be disbursed to third parties who provide goods and services for use and enjoyment by the disabled beneficiary.
 
The Special Needs Trust can be used for a variety of life-enhancing expenditures such as:

  • Annual check-ups at an independent medical facility
  • Attendance of religious services
  • Supplemental education and tutoring 
  • Out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses
  • Transportation (including purchase of a vehicle)
  • Maintenance of vehicles
  • Purchase of materials for a hobby or recreational activity
  • Funds for trips or vacations
  • Funds for entertainment such as movies, shows, or sports events
  • Purchase of goods and services that add pleasure and quality to life: computers, videos, furniture, or electronics
  • Athletic training or competitions
  • Special dietary needs
  • Personal care attendant 

There is a second type of Special Needs Trust called a first person, or self-settled, trust. These are often used when an individual receiving public benefits receives a settlement in a lawsuit or an inheritance from someone who did not set up a Third-Person Special Needs Trusts.

Please contact us for help establishing a Special Needs Trust.


Pacific Elder Law assists clients with all Elder Law matters including Long-term Care Planning, Medi-Cal Planning, Conservatorships, Estate Planning, Powers of Attorney, Wills, Trusts, Special Needs Planning and Elder Mediation. We are located in the San Francisco Bay Area and serve clients in Alameda County, San Francisco County, and Contra Costa County, including Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Emeryville, Piedmont, Hayward, San Francisco, El Cerrito, Richmond, Martinez, Hercules, Lafayette, Orinda and Walnut Creek.



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| Phone: 510-852-9392
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| Phone: 415-552-0113

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