A special needs trust is a trust created for minors or adults that have some special need due to such things as learning disabilities, physical disabilities, etc. A person that is challenged such as this needs and is entitled to some level of protection. As you might imagine they may not be able or willing to handle their own affairs. This is where the trustee comes in and acts as a fiduciary to the beneficiary after the creation of a Special Needs Trust.
A special needs trust is a form of a trust and is usually established as an irrevocable trust. The main purpose of the Special Needs Trust is to prevent a disabled or aged beneficiary from losing benefits that are "asset sensitive". Medi-Cal and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are two examples. (Please keep reading below)
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These types of benefits are called means tested Public benefits and they require that the recipient fall below a certain income level to qualify to receive those benefits. If, for example, somebody receiving these benefits were to get an inheritance in the form of a large lump sum they may lose their ability to collect these benefits. Properly implemented, the Special Needs Trust will help protect the beneficiary. Of course, there are many other issues that need to be addressed with the estate planning attorney of your choosing. Please feel free to read more about Special Needs Trusts in my Blog, and as always, feel free to contact me for your California legal needs.