Law Office of Stephen W. Penn and Associates

What is a special needs trust?

If you are a California resident with a disabled child, one of your greatest concerns is who will care for your child after your death. Establishing a special needs trust for him or her can answer that question and also provide the funds necessary to continue providing your child with the care (s)he requires.

As FindLaw explains, a special needs trust contains whatever assets you choose to put into it, including the following:

  • Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income and other governmental benefits
  • Other monies and/or income-producing assets that you donate to the trust
  • Money that your disabled child inherits
  • Money that (s)he receives in settlement of a lawsuit

The trust also should mention whatever indirect governmental benefits your disabled child currently receives such as subsidized housing or employment, educational or vocational benefits, etc. In addition, it should specify the person, facility or agency that will continue to care for your child after your death, as well as the trustee who manages the trust funds and their disbursement.

Trust advantages

Your special needs trust is more than "just" a legal document; it is a legal document that can outlive you and remain in existence throughout your child's entire life. It gives you peace of mind knowing that your child will always have the things (s)he needs, including the following:

  • Food, clothing and shelter
  • Medical and dental care
  • Monthly allowance
  • Vacations and recreational opportunities

Another major advantage of your special needs trust is that since it, rather than your child, owns all the assets in it, no money that comes into it can disqualify your child from governmental benefits (s)he currently receives or potentially may receive in the future. While this information should not be taken as legal advice, it can help you understand the benefits of a special needs trust and what to expect.

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  • State Bar Of California | California Board Of Legal Specialization | Stephen W. Penn
  • Henry P. Collada Memorial Award 2012