If you have a disabled loved one in your family then you undoubtedly know how physically, emotionally, and financially draining it can be to care for someone with special needs. You also likely wish to protect him or her in the event that you are not around one day to make sure that his or her needs are taken care of properly. One way to accomplish this goal is to create a special needs trust; however, choosing the trustee for your special needs trust must be done with care and consideration.
An individual with special needs may benefit from any of the numerous state and federal programs designed for people with disabilities. Eligibility for these programs, however, is often predicated on the individual’s financial need. If you directly give funds or assets to the individual, he or she may not qualify for much needed assistance. By creating a special needs trust, you can provide additional assistance above and beyond that offered by state or federal programs, but care must be taken when creating and administering the trust.
Specifically, be certain that you appoint a trustee that is familiar with the laws and guidelines involved in state and federal programs as well as someone who understands how to properly administer a trust. If a trustee spends trust funds improperly, the beneficiary can lose his or her eligibility to one or more of the assistance programs. Be sure to consult with your estate planning attorney about who the right person is for the job before you decide who to name as trustee of your special needs trust.
The Law Offices of Barton P. Levine is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.