If you have a child with special needs, you may be thinking about using your estate plan to form a special needs trust. This type of trust provides access to funds your child may use on certain supplemental expenses without jeopardizing his or her eligibility for means-tested government programs.
When you set up a special needs trust, you choose a trustee to oversee it. This task is not one you should take lightly, as the special needs trustee must perform at least three critical tasks.
1. Approving disbursements from the trust
To remain eligible for Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid and other means-tested programs, your child must not use disbursements from the special needs trust on the same expenses these programs cover. This typically means using the fund to pay for housing, living expenses and basic medical care is not acceptable.
The special needs trustee has a fundamental knowledge of the aid your child receives. Before approving disbursements, the trustee ensures they fall within the applicable program’s rules.
2. Investing funds in the trust
With smart investment, your special needs trust may continue to grow over time. While he or she may delegate investment duties to a financial professional, the trustee should understand your investment goals and objectives.
3. Finding appropriate care
The special needs trustee may also act as an advocate for your child. In this role, the trustee may connect your son or daughter with appropriate care providers. Doing so, of course, requires regularly checking with your child to see how he or she is doing.
Ultimately, knowing your child has a direct route to obtaining the resources he or she needs to thrive may be the most important benefit of choosing the right special needs trustee.