It is not easy for any of us to think about or discuss the end of our lives. It is so much easier to ignore the fact that we will all, sooner or later, reach the end, but if you have children, planning for the end of your life is crucial. If your child is special needs, that planning is even more important because there are intricate steps that you need to take to protect your child after you are gone. Even if your special needs child is already over the age of 18, you are going to have to work out some special conditions of your trust to ensure your trust helps him or her as much as possible.

 Supplemental Needs Trust

Trusts that are drafted specifically with special needs children in mind are often called supplemental needs trusts. These types of trusts help your child to receive different types of funds, including what you leave behind for him or her, settlements, gifts, and other funds and still maintain eligibility for any government programs or aid to which he or she is entitled. The following are the steps you will need to follow in drafting a supplemental needs trust. Some of the government programs that could be taken away if your child has more than a specified amount of assets or income include (but are not limited to):

  • Medi-Cal coverage
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Food Stamps
  • Housing Subsidies

 Letter of Intent

The first task you will need to do is write a letter of intent that includes all of the intricate information about your special needs child, including medical history, how you expect your child to be cared for in the future, specific living arrangements you want for your child, and to whom you want to pass guardianship of your child. It will later be used to let your trustees and any courts know where you stand regarding what is in the best interest of your child.

 Acquire Legal Guardianship

Regardless of whether a child has special needs or not, you are only his or her legal guardian until the child turns 18 years old. Of course, you will always be a parent, but if you want to be able to continue making decisions for a child that are binding, you will need to obtain legal guardianship.

 Have the Trust Set up Legally

An individual who has federal aid, Medi-Cal, or any other government aid is typically only allowed to have up to $2,000 in assets. If your child incurs more than the maximum amount allowed, he or she could lose all government aid. A special needs trust is not counted when adding up the assets and income.

Therefore, you should find a qualified and experienced trust attorney to help you set up your will and estate so that it funds the special needs trust correctly. Planning for a special needs child after you are gone is imperative if you want him or her to be able to maintain a life after you are gone. If you are ready to start discussing and working on a special needs trust, contact MMZ LAW today for a free consultation.

We service in Estate Planning, Elder Law and Probate. Estate Planning includes Trust Planning, Asset Protection, Healthcare Directives, Power of Attorney, Special Needs Planning. Elder Law focuses on Medi-Cal Asset Protection Planning & Elder Abuse. Probate will be on court action that deals with estates & wills, conservatorship, and estate contest matters. We service most cities in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County

Please call (909) 256-6702 to discuss your questions and schedule a free consultation:
Trust and Estate, Elder Law, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration and Probate in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties. We offer flat, hourly and contingent fees, based on the type of matter.




341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Trust and Estate, Elder Law, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration and Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont and assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.