Law Offices of Andrew H. Dai
A Special Needs Attorney You Can Rely On
Special Needs Trust Attorney Andrew Dai is proud to offer a comprehensive suite of services to those seeking the assistance of a knowledgeable and compassionate estate planning professional.
Our Burlingame, CA firm is committed to excellence and will take every opportunity to answer any of your questions while forming a strategy that is tailored to your unique needs.
What Is Special Needs Planning?
Special needs planning encompasses the essential tools used to preserve the financial wellbeing of those with disabilities who require eligibility for benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Chief among these tools are Special Needs Trusts (SNT).
Who Needs A Special Needs Trust?
A trust is a legal tool that allows a person (the beneficiary) to transfer their assets into the secured management of another person or financial institution (the trustee). Once the assets are placed in a trust, they are distributed by the trustee in compliance with the terms of the trust – typically, to the benefit of the beneficiary.
Special Needs Trusts are particular in that they are used specifically to secure a disabled person’s eligibility for the resources they need from special government programs. How?
When assets are placed into a trust, they are not “owned” by the beneficiary because the beneficiary of a trust is not in control of the assets within it, the trustee is. This way, those who need government assistance can qualify for support that requires them to maintain a specific limit on their estate – without losing access to funds necessary to cover other supplemental needs.
What Kinds Of Supplemental Care Costs Can A Special Needs Trust Provide For?
Special Needs Trusts do not take the place of support provided by public assistance programs like Medicaid or SSI.
Instead, SNTs are created to help people with disabilities maintain access to the programs and services that give access to basic needs. Meanwhile, the trust covers access to the supplemental needs that basic support programs don’t cover.
Some of the most common supplemental needs that are provided for under a Special Needs Trust can include, but are not limited to:
- The Cost of A Companion or Caregiver
- Guardianship Expenses
- Legal Expenses
- Excess Dental Expenses
- Excess Medical Care Expenses
- Insurance Policies
- Recreation and Vacations
- Mental Health Counseling
- Education & Training Programs
- Transportation (Bus Passes, Ride Share Memberships, etc.)
- And more…
It’s important to keep in mind: There are limits to the kinds of expenses that a trust can cover. To avoid jeopardizing a beneficiary’s access to public support programs, a trustee should always consult with a disability trust lawyer before using funds in an SNT to cover a new type of expense.
What Are The Different Kinds Of Special Needs Trusts?
Just like there are many different kinds of trusts used across the field of estate planning law, there are a few different types of trusts specifically designed to assist those with special needs…
First-Party Special Needs Trusts
These trusts are funded by the individual with a disability who will be the beneficiary of the trust. Federal law places certain restrictions on these trusts, which must be met for the assets to be found exempt from Medicaid and SSI eligibility restrictions.
The requirements for a first-party special needs trust include:
- The beneficiary must be younger than 65 years old when the trust is created and funded.
- The trust must be irrevocable. (This means that once assets are placed in the trust, the trust cannot be changed or terminated.)
- There must be a provision for the reimbursement of Medicaid upon the beneficiary’s death.
- The trustee must administer the assets within the SNT to the sole benefit of the beneficiary.
Third-Party Special Needs Trusts (Supplemental Needs Trusts)
These trusts are created and funded by someone other than the person who will be named as the beneficiary. What’s more, the beneficiary is not allowed to place any of their own assets into a third-party special needs trust.
When a third-party trust is terminated, there is no requirement to reimburse Medicaid for any support paid to the beneficiary. Instead, the person who creates the trust can decide how the assets will be distributed when the beneficiary has passed away.
Wondering How To Get Started?
If you or a loved one are currently relying on a needs-based government support program – or if you believe you’ll need access to these services in the future – it’s essential to contact a special needs estate planning attorney at your earliest convenience.
At the Law Offices of Andrew H. Dai, you will find a disability trust lawyer who will guide you through the complexities of special needs planning with ease. And by choosing a specialist who provides services geared directly to your needs, you can create a plan that gives you the security to look to the future with confidence.
Start Working With An Expert Today!
Our firm has been pleased to provide counsel and representation as a top special needs planning lawyer to clients throughout San Mateo County and the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
If you have any questions or are interested in working with our firm, please don’t hesitate to contact us for an initial consultation. You can reach our Burlingame, CA office by calling (650) 817-8888, or by visiting our client contact page. We look forward to speaking with you!
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