If you are the parent of a California special needs child, you know how difficult day-to-day life can be for both him or her and for you. You and (s)he have enough to deal with without having to deal with financial worries, too. This is where a special needs trust comes in.

FindLaw explains that a special needs trust is one you establish for the benefit of your special needs child. You name him or her as the trust’s beneficiary, and you can, if you wish, name yourself as trustee. If you do so, you will retain control over your child’s assets and governmental benefits just like you do now.

Special needs trust assets

When you establish your child’s special needs trust, you can put any and all of the following into it:

  • His or her recurring Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, or any other monetary payments (s)he receives
  • His or her subsidies such as for housing, schooling, employment, etc.
  • His or her inheritances or gifts that (s)he receives
  • His or her lawsuit settlements and/or court judgments
  • Whatever additional income-producing assets you wish

Special needs trust benefits

One of the biggest benefits to a special needs trust is that neither your child nor you own its assets. Instead, the trust owns them. This allows your child to remain eligible for not only his or her current benefits, but also any that (s)he could become eligible to receive in the future.

As stated, you can control how you disburse the trust income and assets for your child’s benefit if you name yourself as the trustee. You should also, however, name a successor trustee who will assume these responsibilities if and when you cannot continue to carry them out yourself, including when you die. In other words, your child’s special needs trust can outlive you and provide him or her with the money (s)he needs throughout his or her lifetime.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.