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Do I Have Any Control Over My Own Money?
Nov 22, 2013

Hello. I was declared disabled by HIV more than 25 yrs ago, and have lived on Medicare, Medi-Cal, and Social Security Disability Insurance ever since. Recently a close friend helped me sell my home, which I¿d thought impossible since SSDI doesn¿t allow one to hold a savings account over $2,000, and the proceeds of the sale (the house was fully paid for) would be snatched up by Medi-Cal. A terrific attorney created a ¿Special Needs Trust¿ to protect my assets from the government and creditors until my demise. I am now set for life, with hundreds of thousands of dollars (tho¿ less than $1 million) earning high returns on my investments. The money is controlled by my trustee but the state will inevitably get what remains of my little pie. By then, however, I¿ll have transmuted back into the elements which merged to form me at conception. This is good. Then I read that it might still be possible for me to bestow some of my little ¿fortune¿ upon someone or something else¿naturally with professional assistance. What I wish to do is set up some sort of fund to help other long-term HIV survivors (like myself) to perhaps make a down-payment on a car, or possibly to assist persons suffering from Lipoatrophy (as I was) to have their faces reconstructed or their buttocks restored. Something like that. Do you know if this is even possible? Will the state snap up the money even if it has been designated for a charitable purpose? It¿s awesome to be earning more from my investments than I ever did working as a professional. It would give me enormous satisfaction to know my life had been of benefit to other members of my species, and to share my good fortune among other ailing members of my tribe.

Response from Mr. Chambers

That is very thoughtful of you to consider that. The answer to your question rests with the trust document. Your attorney should be able to tell you what will happen to the residue of that trust after you pass and what choices you have in its disbursement.

As far as the government getting it, it is only Medi-Cal that may attempt to put a lien on your assets. You use the term, Medi-Cal, so I assume you are in California. Unless there have been recent changes in California's Medi-Cal recovery program, they are only going after assets to recover the money that Medi-Cal spent caring for the individual in a nursing home, nothing more, although the federal government is encouraging states to expand that.

This is really a legal question you should discuss with the attorney that drafted your trust.

Good luck, Jacques

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