There are many very important decisions to make when creating your child’s Special Needs Trust. But, the most important decision will be picking the person(s) who will be in charge of managing the trust. This person is known as the “trustee” and he or she has the biggest impact on whether or not the instructions in the Special Needs Trust are carried out after you pass away. Selecting the wrong person can have serious consequences for your disabled loved one.
The best person to act as trustee will be financially stable and capable of making good financial choices. After all, this person may be in charge of investing a great deal of money. The trustee should also have a good relationship with your child. If the trustee interacts with him or her on a regular basis, they will have a better understanding of your child’s special needs and will be better suited to make appropriate distributions of the trust funds.
Often, parents select a sibling to be trustee and this works more often than not. However, you should keep in mind that most Special Needs Trusts will state that any remaining trust funds will go to the beneficiary’s siblings upon the death of the beneficiary. This can mean that the sibling trustee is motivated to withhold necessary distributions to the beneficiary to avoid draining their future inheritance. It may be hard to look at your child and picture them being so unscrupulous, but it has happened numerous times, so it is better to carefully consider this possibility.
The trustee also needs to be organized and prudent enough to strictly follow the instructions and limitations outlined in the trust. Improper distributions are made there is a high risk that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid benefits will be terminated. Be sure that your trustee is savvy enough to know when to seek the help of an attorney who understands Special Needs Trusts.
Be sure to give long and serious thought about who you will name as trustee of your child’s Special Needs Trust. The decision can make or break all of the careful planning you have done for your child. If you would like to talk through your choices of trustee with an attorney who has extensive experience with Special Needs Planning, call the Law Office of Sheri R. Abrams at (571) 328-5795 to schedule an appointment.