Special Needs Planning

Encino, California, Special Needs Planning Lawyer

As the parent of a special needs child, our founder and chief estate planning lawyer can relate to other parents who naturally want to do the right thing for their physically, mentally, or developmentally disabled dependent.

When you contact the Law Offices of Gerald L. Kane, you'll find out that the child, sibling, parent, spouse, or a loved one in question may be entitled to valuable government benefits, such as Social Security or Medicaid, either now or in the future. However, most of these benefits are available only to those of very limited means.

As a result, you may find yourself at a crossroads. You could leave a substantial inheritance to this person, but he or she will be disqualified from receiving government benefits that could be crucial to the care they need. On the other hand, you may not want to have to disinherit him or her in order to preserve these benefits.

Fortunately, a special needs trust will keep you from having to make this wrenching decision. Our attorneys can draft a helpful one for you at our Encino offices.

Addressing Your "Special Needs" Needs

The specific purpose of a special needs trust is to supplement government benefits. This means that a special needs trust must only provide benefits above and beyond what the beneficiary or disabled person receives from any government or private agency. In California the trust can be discretionary, allowing distributions that could reduce government benefits to provide a more flexible trust. Be cautioned that this trust requires a trustee who has expertise in the proper administration of special needs trusts.

The trust should not duplicate any government-provided services. Nor should the beneficiary have any resemblance of ownership of the trust assets. Otherwise, the government could attempt to seize the trust assets for repayment of services rendered or decide that the beneficiary doesn't qualify for future benefits.

To accomplish this, you should give the trustee complete control over the distribution of assets and any income they generate. The beneficiary cannot be able to demand any principal or interest from the trust.

Please give very careful consideration to your choice for trustee. Of course, you or your family will continue to provide for this person while you are alive and able to do so. However, someone else should be prepared to assume this responsibility following your death or incapacity.

Trust Your Trustee

The most obvious choice is another family member who also cares deeply about this person. Be on guard against possible conflicts of interest, especially if he or she is in line to inherit the trust assets after your disabled dependent dies. The relative may be more interested in preserving trust assets than providing for your beneficiary. Further, family members often have their own lives to run and will not have the time or expertise to properly manage the special needs trust.

Consider using or adding a corporate trustee, a bank or trust company that has specialized in managing trusts. They can be impartial and durable. They will be around for as long as your beneficiary lives.

Finally, be sure to work closely with an attorney who has considerable experience with these trusts. Our more than 20 years of service to the people of Encino, Los Angeles County, and the San Fernando Valley has made us highly familiar with the legal mechanics and human factors featured in this area of estate planning.

Limited Conservatorships

Limited conservatorships are another way to help people with developmental disabilities. A limited conservatorship promotes independence on the part of the person with special needs, while giving a conservator limited powers over the areas where the special needs cannot attend to. Our team can set up limited conservatorships.

Schedule Your No Obligation Initial Consultation

We identify with the unique legal and personal situations of special needs families. We think those same families will be able to identify with and learn from our astute estate planning advice. Contact the Law Offices of Gerald L. Kane in Encino today. We've served Southern California's estate planning needs for more than 20 years.

We're available by phone, fax, and e-mail. We would consider weeknight or Saturday appointments too. We look forward to meeting and working with you.