​Los Angeles



​Creating perfect special needs trusts (also known as supplemental needs trusts) in California for parents of special needs kids does not have to be a challenge.  There are a number things to think about when forming a good special needs trust, and you should pay attention to selecting the right combination of resources for the special needs child that all must come together at the same time as follows:

1.  Selecting the right trustee.

2.  Selecting the the right Successor Trustees.

3.  Deciding whether or not to create a stand-alone trust or to make it a subtract of your main living trust.

4.   Funding it with the right assets and keeping it funded.

As special needs attorneys, we focus our special needs planning based on personal experience.  When leaving an inheritance to a special needs child, your attention should be on the selection of the trustee and the special needs language as well as the expected cost of living of the child.  Woodland Hills Special Needs Lawyers can address each special needs issue specifically and individually.  A Special Needs Trust is crafted by an attorney to assess and manage inheritances, litigation proceeds, and other resources while maintaining the child's or disabled adult's eligibility for the much desired public assistance benefits.

WHO SHOULD THINK ABOUT CREATING A SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST?  Parents and grandparents who have children or grandchildren with special needs.

Generally, parents, grandparents or others may fund a third party special needs trust the with resources which they deem appropriate for the trust with some limitations. For litigation special needs trusts, the Court will authorize creation of the trust. The Special Needs trust assets are managed by a trustee for the benefit of the child or adult with the disability.   On the other hand, first party special needs trusts are created with the assets of the disabled beneficiary, such as litigation proceeds, via a court order.


You should prepare a special needs trust to allow a disabled person to receive supplemental benefits from you, AND to be able to maintain his or her government benefits, at the same time.   An SNT (Special Needs Trust) allows for additional benefits above and beyond the government help, and does not disqualify the disabled person from receiving the additional assistance.

Government agencies generally honor special needs trusts, but many agencies have imposed stringent rules and regulations upon them. This is why it is of most importance that you, as parents consult an experienced attorney regarding current government benefit programs.


There are generally three types of Special Needs Trusts.

Third Party Special Needs Trust: This type of trust is created by a parent, grandparent or other persons for the benefit of the disabled person.  In this type of trust, the parent or grandparent is the grantor.  The assets which go into this type of trust come from a third party other than the disabled person.

First Party Special Needs Trust:  This type of trust is created for benefit of the disabled individual, often with a court order, and contains repayment provisions for Medi-Cal.   This type of trust can be created by a Conservator/Guardian/ Parent or Grandparent.  This type of trust is generally used for litigation proceeds and sometimes for inheritances which were distributed to the disabled person by error.  This type of trust is created in a Minor's Compromise or Disabled Person's Compromise proceeding.

a)    Litigation and Structured Settlement Special Needs Trusts.
b)    Qualified Settlement Trusts.
c)    Litigation Proceeds Special Needs Trusts.

Pooled Trusts: A pooled trust is usually administered by a corporate fiduciary and is used in specific situations where the Medi-Cal or SSI beneficiary is 65 years old and over, or on where appropriate when the beneficiary will be receiving settlement proceeds.   This type of trust has a corporate trustee.

Much care must be given to the language of the trust to prevent the loss of the needed services and assistance.

The disabled person is the beneficiary of the trust. The trust is discretionary and the trustee has absolute discretion to determine when and how much the disabled individual should receive. The disabled individual cannot be the trustee of this trust.

A Checklist of important items to know regarding a Third Party Special Needs Trust:
The SNT is established (grantor, settlor) by family members such as parents, grandparents, and sometimes by conservators of parents/ or grandparents.   They are always formed by someone other than the person with the disability.

The SNT assets are managed by a trustee (and successor trustees) and NOT the person with the disability;  In fact, the disabled beneficiary cannot be named as trustee of the SNT.

The SNT gives the trustee or successor trustee the absolute discretion to provide whatever assistance is needed.  This means that no mandatory distributions can be made;

The SNT should prohibit giving the person with the disability more income or resources than permitted by the government;

The SNT is for supplementary purposes only; it should add to items provided by the government benefit program, and should not replace those government benefits;

The terms of the SNT define “supplementary needs” in general terms, as well as in specific terms related to the unique needs of the disabled individual;

The terms of the SNT may provide instructions for the disabled person's final and funeral arrangement;

The terms of the SNT will determine who should receive the remainder balance of the trust after the disabled person dies;

The creator of the SNT trust determines choices for successor trustees. These can be family members, friends or professional organizations who have the best interest of the person with the disability in mind; and

A Third party SNT is a spendthrift trust and generally protects the trust against creditors or government agencies trying to obtain funds from the disabled person.

We can help you combine special needs trusts and ABLE accounts for optimum benefits and flexibility.

Our Woodland Hills Special Needs Trust Law Offices serve the following areas:  Woodland Hills, Ca, West Hills, Calabasas, Tarzana, Reseda, Bell Canyon, Agoura Hills, Agoura, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks.

Only 1% of all California attorneys are Specialists.   Mina Sirkin is a Certified Specialist Attorney in Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law.   Call Woodland Hills Special Needs Trusts Attorney: 818.340.4479. Special Needs Trust Woodland Hills.  

Woodland Hills Office Address:  21550 Oxnard St., Suite 300, Woodland Hills CA 91367.