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Special Needs Trust

Doctor Talking to Boy in Wheelchair

Special Needs Trusts are designed specifically for people with physical and/or mental disabilities, some of whom may not be able to manage their own care or financial affairs. A Special Needs Trust protects these vulnerable people from financial abuse, safeguarding their assets and ensuring that they can make full use of public benefit programs. This is true whether they received their trust assets through a lawsuit settlement or from an inheritance.  


Many times, people with disabilities qualify for assistance from government programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid/Medi-Cal, and subsidized housing. But the acquisition of a lump sum of money can disqualify individuals from these programs. If, however, these assets are held in a Special Needs Trust, they are not defined as available resources when the beneficiary is considered for eligibility for public benefits. This means that they can still take advantage of these helpful programs. 


While administrators of a Special Needs Trust cannot give money directly to beneficiaries on SSI, they can use trust assets to pay for services and products including: 

  • Personal care attendants 

  • Home furnishings or modifications 

  • Personal items (clothing, electronics, musical instruments, etc.) 

  • Out-of-pocket medical or dental expenses 

  • Education 

  • Recreation and vacations 

  • Vehicles and transportation 

  • Rehabilitation 

This is why a Special Needs Trust is one of the best ways to ensure an optimal blend of private and public benefits—which translates to a better quality of life.  


Parents of a child with special needs can also set up a trust of this kind so their child will be taken care of after the parents have passed away. Loved ones of an adult with special needs can set up this trust as well. 


Herb Thomas’s speech: Thinking Outside the Family – Special Needs Trusts & Professional Fiduciaries
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Special Needs Trust Fiduciary

Responsibilities of a Special Needs Trustee

According to the Academy of Special Needs Planners (ASNP)

Special Needs Trust

Professional Fiduciary as a Trustee for Special Needs Trusts

SNT trustees bear a great burden of responsibility.

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