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Family members of loved ones with a serious psychiatric diagnosis can become very involved in advocating for their care and monitoring their condition. By the time the person becomes an adult, loved ones are often quite familiar with their symptoms and the struggles of helping them maintain their medication and therapeutic regimens. As caregiving parents age and other concerned relatives feel the strain of balancing their own lives while attending to their loved one’s needs, it can raise concerns about the future. By planning for your loved one with a mental illness today, you can help alleviate concerns about tomorrow and put the right measures in place for their care.

California Special Needs Trust Planning

When an adult has a significant mental health challenge, he or she may be unable to provide for their needs entirely. While someone in this situation might qualify for public assistance such as Medi-Cal or Social Security Income (SSI), these resources are seldom enough to pay for all of their expenses. So, while your loved one’s primary care needs may be met, they will not be able to afford much more than housing, medication, and food. Fortunately, those wanting to provide supplemental support for their loved one may be able to do so through a California special needs trust. This kind of trust can be created and funded for the express purpose of providing certain kinds of support for someone with a qualifying mental health condition. Although government programs limit the amount of personal wealth a recipient can have, when the trust is created correctly, California special needs trust disbursements will not be considered countable assets. However, there are rules regarding how trust payments can be used and given to the beneficiary. Additionally, depending on the trust, when the beneficiary dies or the trust ends, some of the assets may revert to the government or pass to the beneficiary’s heirs.

Preparing for Incapacity

When a person with a debilitating mental health condition cannot safely care for themselves or manage their finances, it may be necessary to consider having the probate court name someone to look after their financial and care needs. In California, when the person is an adult, this is referred to as a conservatorship. However, depending on the individual’s insight into his or her condition, it may be better for them to designate someone to step in on their behalf without court intervention. This can be accomplished by developing documents such as a power of attorney which activates at incapacity and ceases when the person is well or by placing their assets into a trust. It would be beneficial in the situation to consult with an experienced California special needs planning attorney to assess the circumstances and consider which tools might be best.

Anticipating the needs of someone with a mental illness can be challenging. However, by gathering resources and utilizing them wisely, loved ones can help ensure the individual has what they need today and in the future. With the right advice, you can help make sure your loved one with a mental illness has the support and resources they require. At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we understand the complexities of California special needs trust planning for individuals with mental health needs. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation so we can start planning for your solution. /