Special Needs/Disability Planning

As experienced and knowledgeable special needs attorneys, the Law Offices of Vanessa M. Terzian addresses all of the legal needs of families that have a loved one with a disability.  Our goal is to help you plan for the future and security of your special loved one with a disability. Have you ever wondered who will take care of and provide for your child with special needs after you are gone?  How do you pass an inheritance on to your special needs loved one (when he or she cannot have more than $2,000.00) without effecting their governmental benefits? For many parents with special needs children, whether the children are minors or adults, these questions linger in the back of their minds.  To ensure that governmental benefits (such as Medi-Cal or SSI) are never altered, diminished or destroyed, it is imperative that you establish Special Needs Planning — including a supplemental care trust (sometimes referred to as a special needs trust) — through the experienced lawyers.

Estate planning is always important, however, when one of our beneficiaries is disabled or is a special needs loved one, the planning becomes critical.  When a parent leaves an inheritance over $2,000 to an individual with special needs, then that inheritance is actually a gift to the government because it eliminates that child’s qualification for government benefits and may in fact, in the end, not really help improve the quality of that child’s life.  Many parents often mistakenly think that the only reliable method to protect a special needs loved one is to disinherit them.  They believe, or are counseled, that leaving their inheritance to another child or individual who will morally take care of their special needs loved one solves the problem. In most cases, however, this only makes it worse. The best option is to provide for the disabled child via a supplemental care trust (also known as a special needs trust).

What if a disabled individual receives an inheritance from someone who failed to plan for their special needs, or receives a lawsuit settlement that causes them to lose means-based public benefits such as SSI or Medi-Cal?  Is there a way to benefit from the new found wealth and still maintain such benefits?  Yes, if the disabled individual is under the age of 65, that individual may transfer their assets into a Special Needs Trust established pursuant to 42 USC 1396p(d)(4)(a). We routinely draft such trusts and advise trustees on appropriate administration of such trusts to ensure disabled beneficiaries obtain maximum use of trust assets and maintain necessary public benefits.

To learn more about how we can help with Special Needs planning, call our office and schedule a meeting to discuss your specific situation.


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