June 29, 2018
I’ve written many times about the importance of selecting the right person to serve as trustee for a Special Needs Trust. The trustee will need to make distributions, file tax returns and carry out numerous other duties that go along with administering a trust.
Families often consider a sibling for this important role. But, there are many reasons why this may not work. The sibling may not be financially savvy or they may not have the time necessary to devote to the role.
When there is not a clear candidate who is ready and able to take on the role of trustee, families can choose a professional administrator. There are organizations that administer Special Needs Trusts on a regular basis. Sometimes these organizations are in the form of a trust company, the trust department of a bank, or even a non-profit agency dedicated to handling Special Needs Trusts.
There are many advantages to using professional trust administrators, including:
The best reason for using a professional organization is just that – they are professional. The people who work as professional trustees know the trust guidelines well and have experience making decisions about how to carry out the terms of the trust. The consequences of making the wrong decisions are steep – your child may lose the government benefits he or she needs. That is often enough reason for people to select a professional trust administrator.
Delegating the duties of making distributions, filing taxes and preparing accounting documents to a professional takes a very heavy load of responsibility off of the family. This can also help to prevent conflict when family members disagree on how the money in a Special Needs Trust should be spent. Freeing family members from this burden allows them to spend more quality time with their disabled loved one without worrying about money and administrative burdens.
An independent trustee tends to make decisions based on an unbiased point of view, leaving them in a better position to stick to the purpose of the trust. Having personal feelings or a vested interest in the funds that may be left over after the disabled person dies can cloud decisions.
Family members sometimes move away or they could die and/or become incapacitated. A professional entity tends to last longer. If a trust administrator leaves, the organization simply appoints another one. The trust can go on for years and you won’t have to worry about naming a long line of family members as successor trustees.
If you are in the process of selecting trustees and successor trustees for your child’s Special Needs Trust, we encourage you to contact our Sacramento-area attorneys who have extensive experience in this area. We’ve helped local families make this decision for years and we can help you too. Call our office at (916) 241-9661 to schedule a consultation.