Special Needs Law is a specialized area of law that involves representing, counseling, and assisting people with disabilities and their families in connection with a variety of legal issues, from disability planning to mental health, with primary emphasis on promoting the highest quality of life for the individuals. At Copenbarger & Copenbarger we will address the Special Needs Person’s perspective from a holistic viewpoint by discussing legal, medical, financial, social, and family issues.
We use a variety of legal tools and techniques to meet the goals and objectives of the Special Needs Person and their family. We typically work with other professionals in various fields to provide the Special Needs Person’s family with quality service and ensure their needs are met.
A Special Needs Trust (SNT) allows a person with disabilities to maintain his or her eligibility for public benefit assistance, even though they may have assets that would otherwise make them not eligible for the benefits. There are two types of SNTs; First Party and Third Party funded.
First party SNTs are funded with assets that belong to the trust beneficiary or to which the beneficiary was legally entitled (e.g., assets from an award or settlement, etc.). These trusts must include federal and state provisions, which require notice and payback to the State upon the death of the trust beneficiary or earlier termination of the trust. The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is required to recover up to an amount equal to the total medical assistance paid by Medi-Cal on the trust beneficiary’s behalf.
First party SNTs are classified as either (d)(4)(A) SNTs which are established under 42 USC 1396p(d)(4)(A) or Pooled SNTs established under 42 USC 1396p(d)(4)(C):
- A (d)(4)(A) SNT can only be established for a disabled individual under the age of 65.
- A Pooled Trust can be established for a disabled individual of any age and must be established and managed by a non-profit association. A separate account is maintained for each beneficiary, but funds are “pooled” together for investment purposes.
Third Party funded
Third party SNTs are funded with assets belonging to a person other than the trust beneficiary, and to which the beneficiary never had possession or legal interest. Third party trusts are not subject to recovery by the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).
We address general estate planning issues making sure the right estate plan is in place; select and design the type of Special Needs Trust that will ensure that assets and benefits left to enhance the Special Needs Person standard of living is protected. We will also discuss the appropriate type of care, coordinating private and public resources to finance the cost of care, and working to ensure the Special Needs Person’s right to quality care are all part of their Special Needs Plan.