If you have a loved one who has a disability, you likely recognize the potential for financial hardship. After all, your relative or friend may have difficulty providing for his or her basic needs. While needs-based government assistance, such as Supplemental Security Income, may help, many programs do not pay for quality-of-life enhancements.
A special needs trust holds money for the benefit of a disabled person. Because the trust does not transfer ownership to the individual, its disbursements typically do not adversely affect eligibility for public assistance. If you have decided to set up a special needs trust, though, you must be certain you pick the right person to be the trustee. Here are three qualities of a good one:
- Subject-matter expertise
Your loved one may need public benefits to survive. If the special needs trustee is not knowledgeable about government programs, he or she may inadvertently authorize a disbursement that renders your friend or relative ineligible for benefits. Therefore, the trustee should be familiar with program rules.
A special needs trustee must manage funds in the trust. He or she also oversees disbursements. Therefore, it is critical for the trustee to be trustworthy. If you would rather not put too much authority in the hands of one person, you may want to consider naming two individuals to the position. Alternatively, you may want to think about enlisting the help of a professional trustee.
- Sufficient time
Finally, you should recognize that acting as a special needs trustee requires a time commitment. If the trustee is too busy, he or she may not meet your disabled loved one’s needs. Even worse, the trustee may do something to harm the recipient’s public benefits. Either way, it is essential for the trustee to have adequate time to do what the job requires.
If you are looking to boost the quality of life for your disabled friend or relative, setting up a special needs trust may make a great deal of sense. You do not want to name the wrong person as trustee, however. By looking for three essential qualities, you can be certain you pick an effective special needs trustee.