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How Do I Set Up a Special Needs Trust in California?

A special needs trust is an arrangement in which the assets of a person who has a disability (the beneficiary) are managed by a person or organization (the trustee). Trusts can last as long as needed, so often, they last until the beneficiary dies or until the funds in the trust are expunged.

Special needs trusts are created with the specific needs, lifestyle and future of the disabled beneficiary in mind. Often, they are used to help those with disabilities maintain their government benefits. Many people with disabilities qualify for government assistance, like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and subsidized housing. But when that person acquires substantial assets, like a lump sum of money, that person is at risk of losing government benefits. Using a special needs trust, the beneficiary can allow a trustee to handle those substantial assets. Since the trustee handles the money, not the beneficiary, the government does not look at those assets when determining eligibility for benefits.

You don’t necessarily need an attorney to set up a special needs trust, however, it is recommended that you speak to one. A special needs trust needs to contain very specific language to make sure it is tailored to a beneficiary’s unique needs. Additionally, there may be complicated and state-specific rules that apply, especially if the assets come from things like settlements. Our attorneys are well-versed in the complexities of setting up special needs trusts and are ready and willing to help you craft one that works for you or your loved one.