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It's the Law! May 10th, 2007

Joseph P. Lisiecki III, Esq

Joseph P. Lisiecki III, Esq
 

 

Special Needs Trust

Help for the Disabled The special needs trust becomes an important tool in providing financial support for persons on a program that requires a showing of financial need. A number of government and privately supported programs require the person to show financial need for qualification. These include supplemental social security, disability and MediCal among others. Supplemental Social Security is part of the social security program for persons who qualify for social security payments of less than about $600.00 per month. The financial qualifications for MediCal are particularly stringent. The qualifications restrict the patient to less than $2,000.00 in liquid assets and less than $30.00 per month income. The rules are quite complex with a number of exemptions. If a gift is left outright, then the patient becomes disqualified until the gift is spent.

The California legislature and Congress recognized this problem. The Probate Code establishes the rules for a Special Needs Trust which can provide financial support without disqualifying the person from public agency support. If the gift is an outright gift from an estate or if the beneficiary receives a distribution from a public agency (such as insurance proceeds from a government pension) the special needs trust must be approved by the court. Court approval is a relatively straightforward procedure for an attorney experienced in these trusts. Court approved special needs trusts require a payback provision on the death of the beneficiary. For instance, money expended by MediCal is subject to being repaid on the death of the primary beneficiary.

The special needs trust permits the Trustee to use the trust estate to provide financial support not included in the public agency support. These include special therapy or specialized counseling which would not be paid by the public agency. If the person is on disability, additional counseling or therapy can add so much to the qualify of life. Other expenditures which can add to the disabled persons comfort include entertainment, vacation expenses and even cruises. The trustee can provide transportation expenses including a better automobile. We all know transportation is particularly important for persons in southern California.

The special needs trust is of great importance to improve the quality of life for the beneficiary. If the special needs trust is privately funded and prepared before the distribution is made, the trust does not require court approval. The privately funded special needs trust does not require a payback provision. The remaining assets may be distributed to other beneficiaries on the death of the primary beneficiary.

If you have a relative or know of a friend who is part of a government funded program, have them or their caretaker contact an attorney to discuss whether a Special Needs Trust might be part of the family's estate plan.

John Smylie, Ph (760)727-4248,
Webpage Smylielaw.com, e-mail smyli001@sbcglobal.net

 

 

 

 


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