Special Needs Trusts

Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) are invaluable tools for families with loved ones who have disabilities or special needs. These trusts are designed to protect the assets of individuals with disabilities while ensuring they remain eligible for essential government benefits and assistance programs. At West and West LLP, we specialize in creating tailored Special Needs Trusts to provide financial security and peace of mind for individuals with disabilities and their families.

Why Choose West and West LLP for Your Special Needs Trust?

  • Expertise in Disability Law: Our team comprises attorneys with extensive experience and expertise in disability law and special needs planning, ensuring you receive comprehensive and compassionate guidance throughout the process.
  • Tailored Solutions: We understand the unique needs and challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and their families. We provide personalized attention and craft Special Needs Trusts tailored to your specific circumstances and objectives.
  • Protection of Government Benefits: We are committed to ensuring that your loved one’s eligibility for government benefits and assistance programs is preserved while maximizing the assets available to enhance their quality of life.

Understanding Special Needs Trusts

A Special Needs Trust is a legal arrangement established to manage assets for the benefit of an individual with disabilities or special needs. These trusts are designed to supplement, rather than replace, government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. By holding assets in a properly structured Special Needs Trust, individuals with disabilities can maintain eligibility for critical government benefits while still accessing additional resources to enhance their quality of life.

Benefits of Special Needs Trusts

  1. Special Needs Trusts offer several key benefits, including:

    • Preservation of Government Benefits: Assets held in a Special Needs Trust are not counted for purposes of determining eligibility for means-tested government benefits such as SSI and Medicaid, preserving access to essential support services.
    • Enhanced Quality of Life: Funds from the trust can be used to supplement government benefits and cover expenses not covered by public assistance, including medical care, therapy, education, housing, transportation, and recreation.
    • Protection of Assets: Special Needs Trusts provide a safeguard for assets intended to support the individual with disabilities, protecting them from misuse, mismanagement, and exploitation.
    • Peace of Mind for Families: Families gain peace of mind knowing that their loved one’s financial future is secure and that their needs will be met over the long term.

Types of Special Needs Trusts

  • There are different types of Special Needs Trusts, including:

    • Third-Party Special Needs Trust: Established by a third party, such as a parent or grandparent, using their assets to benefit the individual with disabilities. Upon the beneficiary’s death, any remaining funds can pass to other beneficiaries designated by the grantor.
    • First-Party Special Needs Trust (d4A Trust): Established using assets owned by the individual with disabilities, such as an inheritance or personal injury settlement. Funds remaining in the trust after the beneficiary’s death may be subject to Medicaid payback requirements.
    • Pooled Special Needs Trust: Managed by a nonprofit organization, pooling the funds of multiple beneficiaries for investment purposes while maintaining separate accounts for each beneficiary.

Our Process

Our approach to creating Special Needs Trusts is client-centered and comprehensive:

  1. Initial Consultation: We begin with a detailed consultation to understand your loved one’s needs, goals, and financial situation.
  2. Trust Design and Drafting: Based on our discussions, we design and draft a Special Needs Trust that meets your specific requirements and complies with applicable laws and regulations.
  3. Review and Approval: We review the trust document with you, making any necessary adjustments to ensure it accurately reflects your intentions and addresses your concerns.
  4. Trust Funding and Administration: We assist with funding the trust and provide guidance on trust administration, including distributions and reporting requirements.
  5. Ongoing Support: We offer ongoing support and assistance to ensure the trust remains effective and continues to meet your loved one’s evolving needs over time.

Common Questions About Special Needs Trusts

  • Can a Special Needs Trust pay for housing and living expenses? Yes, funds from a Special Needs Trust can be used to cover a wide range of expenses, including housing, utilities, food, clothing, transportation, medical care, and other essential needs.
  • Can a beneficiary have more than one Special Needs Trust? Yes, it is possible for a beneficiary to have multiple Special Needs Trusts, each serving different purposes or funded by different sources.
  • What happens to the trust funds after the beneficiary’s death? The disposition of remaining trust funds after the beneficiary’s death depends on the type of trust and specific provisions outlined in the trust document.

Contact Us

Ensure a secure and stable financial future for your loved one with a Special Needs Trust from West and West LLP. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and learn more about how we can help you create a personalized trust plan tailored to your family’s unique needs. Reach us at (713) 222-9378 or west@westandwest.com, or visit our office at 3818 Fox Meadow Lane Pasadena.