Special Needs Trusts

Enhance the lives of those you care about the most.

What is a Special Needs Trusts?

A special needs trust is created to help recipients of needs-based public benefits, so that they have supplemental funds. The beneficiary is able to retain their benefits while enjoying an enhanced quality of life.

How does a Special Needs Trust work?

Funds in a Special Needs Trust are controlled by a trustee who can either be a professional fiduciary, a corporate fiduciary, a family member, or friend. These individuals have control over the funds in the trust and work with the beneficiary to make sure these funds are used exclusively for their sole benefit. Because the beneficiary of the Special Needs Trust does not have direct access to the funds they are not considered an available resource and, therefore, do not affect an individual’s public benefits.

Are there different types of Special Needs Trusts?

There are two main types of Special Needs Trusts:

First Party Special Needs Trusts: These type of Special Needs Trusts are funded with assets that belong to the beneficiary. First Party SNT’s are often created when a disabled individual is set to receive a settlement or an inheritance. These trusts can be created by a parent, grandparent, legal guardian or by court petition. Often times First Party SNTs are under court supervision. This type of trust can only be created for individuals under the age of 65 years.

Third Party Special Needs Trusts: Third Party SNT’s are often created in conjunction with a basic estate plans, but can also be established separately. Third Party Special Needs Trusts may be created by anyone except the beneficiary, their spouse or their agent. However, they are most often created by parents or grandparents. If a “stand alone” third party special needs trust is established, other family members can contribute to the trust as well.

What is a Pooled Special Needs Trust?

Pooled Special Needs Trusts are options for beneficiaries over the age of 65 or competent individuals under the age of 65 who do not have a living parent or grandparent. This type of trust may also be suitable for an individual who is not receiving an amount large enough to be put in a First Party Special Needs Trusts. These types of trusts “pool” the money of the participating individuals for investment purposes, but maintain separate accounts and records for each person, thus incurring less expense than typical trusts. We work very closely with the Special Needs Trust Foundation which is the only pooled trust located in San Diego County.

How much does a Special Needs Trust cost?

It depends because each individual situation is different. Therefore, having a set price for these trusts is nearly impossible. However, most of our trusts are billed as a flat fee, not hourly. If you have more questions about our pricing feel free to call us at (858)689-0613.

What if I’m receiving only a small amount?

If you are receiving an amount where creating a first party special needs trust is not cost effective, we can assist you with alternatives such as putting the money into a pooled trust or completing what is known as a “spend down.”

What is a spend down?

A Spend Down involves spending down the funds until the recipient is within the allowable asset limit to receive needs based public benefits.

Please see our page on Medi-Cal Planning for more information on spend downs.

For more information on Special Needs Trusts or to make an appointment please call our office at (858) 689-0613 or email us using our contact form.

* The information presented is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice on your specific situation.