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The government offers various forms of financial assistance and medical care when a person is disabled or unable to provide for themselves (i.e., Medi-Cal and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)) and most people are unaware how a beneficiary receiving a large sum of inheritance might effect, reduce, or even sever government aid.

When a client wishes to make provisions for a loved one with special needs after they pass, I often suggest executing a Special Needs Trust (SNT) in advance that is separate from the 'Family Trust'. In doing so, this will prevent the beneficiary of the SNT from disqualifying from public benefits that they are receiving for care. The SNT will allow funds to become available once you pass without removing the beneficiary from government aid.

The SNT should be prepared in advance, typically at the time the 'Family Trust' is. The 'Family Trust' will contain a special provision referring to the SNT. This also allows you to designate and appoint a different Trustee to the SNT than that of the Trustee appointed in the 'Family Trust' if you wish.

While arrangements can technically be made to prevent those assets from disqualifying a loved one with special needs from his or her benefits after you pass without executing a SNT, the methods for doing so after-the-fact can be far more expensive and contain serious drawbacks and/or delays.

Please contact us if you have any questions... it is never too late to get your Estate Plan in order and you will feel at ease knowing your loved one's will be taken care of after you pass.

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