How does Special Needs Planning Help In Your Trust?



As special needs trust planning attorneys in Glendale Ca, we gear our planning with one goal in mind: Making available, or maintaining public benefits for the disabled person.  At times, a person has inherited an asset which would disqualify him from Medi-Cal. The benefit of our Special Needs Planning is to build strategies that allow the recipient of the inheritance to keep both the inheritance and Medi-Cal.

Common situations:

  1. Inheritance already received;
  2. Inheritance about to be received;
  3. Inheritance is likely in the future.
  4. Litigation proceeds for a person on Medi-Cal.
  5. Parents building a trust and estate for the benefit of a disabled child.

When leaving an inheritance to a special needs child, much attention should be given to the selection of the trustee and the special needs language as well as the expected cost of living of the child. California Special Needs Trust Lawyers in Glendale can address each special needs issue specifically and individually.

A Special Needs Trust is a supplemental needs trust created by an attorney to manage inheritances, litigation proceeds, and other resources of a special needs or disabled person while maintaining the child’s or disabled adult’s eligibility for the much desired public assistance benefits.


Generally, parents, grandparents or others may fund a third party special needs trust with resources which they deem appropriate for the trust with some limitations.  The Special Needs trust assets are managed by a trustee for the benefit of the child or adult with the disability.   On the other hand, first-party special needs trusts are a court created instrument, with the assets of the disabled beneficiary, such as litigation proceeds.  First Party Special Needs Trusts require a court order.

Government agencies generally honor special needs trusts, but many agencies have imposed stringent rules and regulations upon them. This is why it is of most importance that you, as parents consult an experienced attorney regarding current government benefit programs.

There are generally three types of Special Needs Trusts.

Third Party Special Needs Trust: This type of trust is created by a parent, grandparent or other persons for the benefit of the disabled person.  In this type of trust, the parent or grandparent is the grantor.  The assets which go into this type of trust come from a third party other than the disabled person.

First Party Special Needs Trust:  This type of trust is created for benefit of the disabled individual, often with a court order, and contains repayment provisions for Medi-Cal.   This type of trust can be created by a Conservator/Guardian/ Parent or Grandparent.  This type of trust is generally used for litigation proceeds and sometimes for inheritances which were distributed to the disabled person by error.  This type of trust is created in a Minor’s Compromise or Disabled Person’s Compromise proceeding. A competent person can now create an irrevocable special needs trust for himself or herself to preserve Medi-Cal and SSI.

a)    Litigation and Structured Settlement Special Needs Trusts.

b)    Litigation Proceeds Special Needs Trusts.

c) Inheritance of a competent but disabled person.

Pooled Trusts: A pooled trust is usually administered by a corporate fiduciary and is used in specific situations where the Medi-Cal or SSI beneficiary is 65 years old and over, or on where appropriate when the beneficiary will be receiving settlement proceeds.   This type of trust has a corporate trustee.

Much care must be given to the language of the trust to prevent the loss of the needed services and assistance.

The disabled person is the beneficiary of the trust. The trust is discretionary and the trustee has absolute discretion to determine when and how much the disabled individual should receive. The disabled individual cannot be the trustee of this trust.

A Checklist of important items to know regarding a Third Party Special Needs Trust:

The SNT is established (grantor, settlor) by family members such as parents, grandparents, and sometimes by conservators of parents/ or grandparents.   They are always formed by someone other than the person with the disability.

The SNT assets are managed by a trustee (and successor trustees) and NOT the person with the disability;  In fact, the disabled beneficiary cannot be named as trustee of the SNT.

The SNT gives the trustee or successor trustee the absolute discretion to provide whatever assistance is needed.  This means that no mandatory distributions can be made;

The SNT should prohibit giving the person with the disability more income or resources than permitted by the government;

The SNT is for supplementary purposes only; it should add to items provided by the government benefit program, and should not replace those government benefits;

The terms of the SNT define “supplementary needs” in general terms, as well as in specific terms related to the unique needs of the disabled individual;

The terms of the SNT may provide instructions for the disabled person’s final and funeral arrangement;

The terms of the SNT will determine who should receive the remainder balance of the trust after the disabled person dies;

The creator of the SNT trust determines choices for successor trustees. These can be family members, friends or professional organizations who have the best interest of the person with the disability in mind; and

A Third party SNT is a spendthrift trust and generally protects the trust against creditors or government agencies trying to obtain funds from the disabled person.

Reach out to NAMI and participate in events and groups, if you have family members with mental illness issues. Support makes the challenges a bit easier.

Our Glendale Special Needs Trust Law Offices serve residents in the following areas: See us in Glendale for service near Burbank, and in Pasadena for services near Altadena, Alhambra, San Marino, La Canada Flintridge areas.


We are professionals who specialize in the field of Special Needs Trust Planning in Los Angeles County and Glendale.  Only the top 1% of California attorneys are Certified as Specialists who handle Special Needs Trust.   Mina Sirkin is a nationally recognized special needs trust attorney and has served as a media expert to CNN, MSNBC, Inside Edition, NPR and KTLA regarding probate and estate matters.  She is Certified as a Specialist by the Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California, in Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law.   Mina Sirkin is rated 10/10 on Avvo.  Sirkin Law Group’s Probate Offices are located in Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, Glendale and Pasadena.  For Glendale Ca Special Needs Trusts, Call: 818.340.4479. 

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