We’re often asked by parents of kids with special needs for our honest opinion on using Do-It-Yourself software to create a Special Needs Trust in California. Obviously, DIY programs cost less than working with an attorney, and the ability to create a document online offers an extra level of convenience and ease.
But… buyer beware. These DIY Special Needs Trusts are not what they seem.
A Special Needs Trust is a very complex legal tool that rarely works as a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Our California special needs attorneys would venture to say that the majority of online templates or DIY software programs that create Special Needs Trusts are not sufficient for most families and would cause many unintended consequences.
Basically, a DIY program can’t understand the complexities of your family or your child’s unique needs. It also won’t tell you what you are MISSING or that could hurt your child when you are no longer around to protect him or her.
Not to mention, laws vary from state to state, and eligibility for programs that your child may depend on are also complex and difficult to account for on a generic, “one-size-fits-all” document.
For example, the eligibility rules for Medi-Cal are different from those for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and both of those are different from Section 8 housing. Many of the decisions made by a Trustee can have devastating consequences for the individual with special needs and their ability to access critical government programs.
Further, without having detailed knowledge, families (and even some inexperienced lawyers!) make the mistake of putting a “Medi-Cal pay-back” provision into the Trust rather than allowing the remainder of the Trust to go to others upon the death of the individual with special needs. While Medi-Cal pay-back provisions are required in some types of Special Needs Trusts, an attorney who knows the difference can save your family thousands of dollars, or more.
So, while it is possible to create a Special Needs Trust using an online template, it is not likely to produce the best results for your child or your family.
Even if it takes a bit more time and effort to set your trust up with the help of a lawyer from the start, you will have peace of mind knowing that it’s set up correctly to protect your child for life. Here at Morgan Law Group we strive to make the entire process of setting up a Special Needs Trust in California as easy and stress-free as possible. If you have questions or you’d like to schedule a consultation, contact our office at (949) 260-1400.