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Seattle Scott
Seattle Scott, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 961
Experience:  I have 25 years experience as a Washington State Family Law Attorney.
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I am trustee for a special needs trust for my brother. I am

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I am trustee for a special needs trust for my brother. I am 71 and live in Santa Barbara, CA. My brother, age 63, and his wife live in Tehachapi [Kern county] California. He is high functioning bi-polar, with stable medication. He has a history with SSI and Medi-Cal, Social Security and Medicare. The trust is a 3rd party, non-revokeable trust, created in VA and vetted with California SSA. ...created as a result of inheritance distribution pursuant to death of parents. His with has Social Security diability but has been non-disabled and worked a full career in a non-dependent status.

My brother is allowed to own a home and have car.

Question: Can he get the home in his own name along with his wife's name, or does sharing ownership in any manner damage the protected status of being able to own a home? In other words, can the partial ownership of the home in some manner be used against him or the protected status of his SSI ?

Neither SSI nor SSDI are asset dependent benefits - meaning a person's wealth does not factor in to qualifying for benefits. There is an income limitation for SSI beneficiaries, though, but your question is just about owning certain assets. The sole purpose of a special needs trust is so the beneficiary can qualify for medicaid benefits, which as opposed to SSI and SSDI is based on a lack of wealth. But a residence/house is excluded from the calculation of wealth for medicaid qualification and a residence/house continues to be excluded even if not occupied by the beneficiary - if occupied by the beneficiary's spouse.


Are you contemplating having the trust purchase the house or is this something that your brother and his wife are going to do on their own?


At your brother's death, who gets the remaining trust money/assets?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The trust is purchasing the house to be in the name of himself and his wife. At his death, remaining trust money/assets go to his wife and children.


The question is whether having his wife down as owner as well as himself, does this dilute or damage his protected status? other words, is there compelling reason for it to be in his name alone?

If the trust is not going to own the house then the house should be in both names as there is a potential advantage if either spouse needs to be in a nursing home after qualifying for Medicaid, while the other spouse continues to reside in the house.

But the best solution is for the trust to own the house, since that will keep it away from their creditors. For example if brother kills someone while driving and for some reason the car insurance had lapsed or doesn't kill then but makes them require 24 nursing care for life and damages are $3 million and the car insurance is $500,000.

The trust is an asset shelter device so purchasing large value assets for the beneficiary to own defeats one of the purposes of the trust.
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Appreciate the nice feedback. Thanks for using Just Answer/Pearl

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