If you are considering leaving money to a disabled family member or friend it is important to do this properly so as not to disqualify the beneficiary from receiving existing or future governmental benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medi-Cal. Rather than making a bequest directly to the beneficiary your gift should be made to a Special Needs Trust (also known as a Supplemental Needs Trust). Before doing this you should speak with the beneficiary or their legal guardian to determine whether a Special Needs Trust has already been established for the beneficiary.
Because it is impossible to know whether a healthy beneficiary may require public assistance in the future, your trust agreements should always include language that automatically creates a Special Needs Trust for any beneficiary that is receiving public benefits at the time they inherit anything from your estate. Be sure to review your trust agreement carefully to make sure it includes Special Needs Trust language if that document was prepared by another law firm prior to you working with the Halpern Law Office.