Attorney Weily Yang led a parent workshop about limited conservatorships and special needs trusts for the Irvine Unified School District. In the workshop, he explained how estate planning can help parents of special needs children achieve peace of mind.
Using Conservatorships to Preserve Your Child’s Best Interests
More specifically, Mr. Yang explained conservatorships and how conservators can preserve conservatees’ best interests. In a conservatorship, the conservator helps the conservatee with their financial and personal needs, including food, shelter, clothing, budgeting, and paying bills. Still, the conservatee has rights and can assert some independence.
With step-by-step slides, Mr. Yang explained how to establish a conservatorship and outlined the responsibilities and restrictions of the court proceeding. He also talked about limited conservatorships, which can be set up for adults with developmental disabilities who cannot fully care for themselves and their property. The goal of a limited conservatorship is to maximize independence and self-reliance.
Conservatorships can be helpful when children with special needs reach 18 and still need parental assistance. Nevertheless, there are many alternatives to conservatorship, including powers of attorney and living trusts. Parents of children with special needs should think about how they are going to support their children as adults – before they turn 18.
Protecting Government Benefits with Special Needs Trusts
Because there is no age limit to trusts, parents should establish special needs trust as soon as possible, particularly if their child is receiving government benefits. The purpose of a special needs trust is to protect need-based government benefits like Social Security Income, Medi-Cal, and In-Home Supportive Services. Children can also access the assets in special needs trusts if something happens to their parents.
When starting a special needs trust, choosing a trustee is very important. Parents will want a trustee who knows and cares for their child and can be trusted to use government benefits as intended. If they have any doubts, parents can also choose a trust protector to oversee the situation after they’re gone.
A special needs trust can preserve a family’s eligibility for need-based government benefits while allowing children to access funds for care and other living expenses. Assets in a special needs trust are safe from creditors, as well. Third parties (like other family members) can also add gifts or “income” to the trust without changing your family’s eligibility for need-based benefits.
Putting all extra income into your special needs trust can help you avoid penalties for how you spend money and prevent scrutiny from the Social Security Administration.
For more about establishing a conservatorship, creating a special needs trust, and using both legal strategies to care for your child, please watch the entire webinar, which we recorded on Zoom.
If you need help with your unique situation, do not hesitate to call Mortensen & Reinheimer, PC. Along with Mr. Yang, our team has 50 years of combined experience, and we can help you one-on-one.
Our knowledgeable and courteous staff can do the hard work so that you don’t have to, and you can focus on what’s important – taking care of your family.
For more information about what our team can do for you, please call us at (714) 384-6053 or contact us onlinetoday.