What Is A Special Needs Trust?

In the complex realm of estate planning and trust administration, there exists a remarkable and often underappreciated legal instrument known as a Special Needs Trust. These trusts serve as a beacon of hope for individuals with disabilities, offering them the chance at a better quality of life while ensuring their financial future remains secure. In a recent episode of “The Probate Realtor Show,” we sat down with Lisa S. Golshani, a seasoned estate planning attorney with a special focus on Special Needs Trusts. This enlightening conversation unveiled the intricate world of Special Needs Trusts, shedding light on their significance, intricacies, and the profound impact they can have on families and individuals in need. In this article, we delve deeper into their discussion, exploring the essence of Special Needs Trusts and their transformative power.

What is a special needs trust?

At its core, a Special Needs Trust is a legal vehicle designed to allow families to contribute to it, often as part of their estate planning, with the primary goal of securing the financial future of a loved one with special needs. These trusts are essential for individuals who depend on government benefits like Medi-Cal and supplemental security income, as they provide a way for parents to leave assets to their children without jeopardizing these crucial services.

Lisa Golshani explains that Special Needs Trusts are much more than just financial instruments. They serve as a lifeline for individuals with disabilities, offering protection, advocacy, and a structured framework for their future. These trusts enable parents to create a system of support for their children, even when they are no longer around. By appointing trusted individuals to oversee and manage the trust’s assets, parents can ensure that their child’s needs are met, that they are advocated for, and that they are protected from potential exploitation.

Diverse Needs, Tailored Solutions

Special Needs Trusts are not one-size-fits-all; rather, they are adaptable to the unique circumstances of each individual. These trusts cater to a wide range of disabilities, including physical, intellectual, and mental health conditions. They can be established for individuals with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or even those who simply struggle with managing their finances.

Moreover, these trusts offer flexibility in how they are managed. While a professional fiduciary or a corporate entity can serve as the trustee, families often have the option to designate relatives or close family friends to this role. However, safeguards are crucial, and naming backup trustees is common practice to ensure the trust’s continuity, given the potential long lifespan of the beneficiaries.

Navigating Financial Terrain

One of the key advantages of Special Needs Trusts is their ability to protect government benefits and provide a secure financial foundation. They offer a layer of insulation against potential challenges, such as drug addiction, that could put a beneficiary’s financial well-being at risk.

Lisa explains that while trustees are typically held to a fiduciary standard of care when managing trust assets, they have some latitude in investment choices. While conservative investments are the norm, the trust can be customized to cater to the unique asset portfolio of the family, including investments in real estate, stocks, cryptocurrency, or other assets. The goal is always to ensure the trust’s assets will last throughout the beneficiary’s lifetime, and the investment strategy should align with this objective.

A Lifelong Commitment to Compassion

Lisa Golshani’s passion for Special Needs Trusts is evident in her commitment to helping families navigate this intricate landscape. Her journey into this field began with the desire to make a positive impact on the lives of those facing unique challenges. This passion stems from her upbringing in a traditional household and her close connection to her husband, a researcher in the field of autism. These personal experiences fuel her dedication to providing families with the tools they need to secure a brighter future for their loved ones.

Lisa emphasizes that Special Needs Trusts aren’t just about preserving financial resources. They are about empowering individuals with disabilities, enhancing their quality of life, and safeguarding their well-being, even in a changing landscape of government benefits and services.


The world of Special Needs Trusts is a world of compassion, hope, and empowerment. Lisa S. Golshani’s expertise and dedication shine a light on the profound impact these trusts can have on individuals with disabilities and their families. By offering financial security, advocacy, and a roadmap for the future, Special Needs Trusts ensure that no one is left behind.

As we navigate the complexities of estate planning and trust administration, it’s crucial to recognize the invaluable role that Special Needs Trusts play in shaping a brighter and more inclusive future. With advocates like Lisa Golshani leading the way, families can find solace in knowing that their loved ones with special needs will have the support and protection they deserve, long after they are gone.

🗣️Notable Quotes:

“When setting up a special needs trust, we need to make sure this money is going to last throughout the person’s lifetime.”

📇Connecting with Lisa:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/law-offices-of-lisa-s-golshani-aplc/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100061948036690

Instagram: @lisagolshani Twitter: @Golshanilaw

Website: http://www.golshanilaw.com

📺Full Episode

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DISCLAIMER: The Probate Realtor® Matias Baker Masucci is a licensed real estate broker in California DRE # 02054763. Any legal information provided is for informational purposes only and NOT for the purpose of providing legal advice. Contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal issue or problem. We make no guarantees as to the accuracy of any information.

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