Naming the right person as trustee for a special needs trust

The creation of a special needs trust is one of the simplest and most secure methods for family members to provide for someone they love who struggles with a physical or developmental disability. As the name implies, a special needs trust benefits an individual with unique and special needs.

Family members can put many different restrictions on the assets held in a special needs trust. These restrictions allow them to protect their loved ones from making financial mistakes or from the general inability to manage their own finances. In order for a trust to offer real protection, it also requires administration by a trustee.

The individual named as trustee will have the authority to manage the assets and make disbursements to the beneficiary. Choosing the right person as trustee is one of the most critical aspects of developing a trust. A good trustee will be able to be firm with your special needs family member and put the needs of that individual above their own.

Look for someone who has a positive relationship with the beneficiary

You don’t want to just name a random person as trustee for a special needs trust. Instead, you want to name someone who has an existing, positive relationship with the beneficiary who won’t become angered or burned out by the work required by the trust.

Many times, parents choose a sibling or cousin of the special needs beneficiary. However, not all siblings will put the needs of a special needs family member above their own. You want to make sure that there is love and not resentment at the core of the relationship between the trustee and the beneficiary. That way, they will be inspired not just by the requirements of the trust itself but also by the relationship with your special needs family member to do their best to protect the trust.

Multiple trustees can be a good solution for some families

The funds in a trust can be a dangerous source of temptation for the people you love. The amount of work can also be a job in itself. Although they may have good intentions, the trustee could wind up wanting to use those assets for their own benefit or family, or simply be feeling too burned out to handle the trust.

If you feel worried about how well your children will administer a special needs trust, naming more than one person as trustee could be a good idea. This way, the individual trustees can serve as potential checks against one another. If one person attempts to do something unethical or in violation of the trust terms, the other trustee can prevent that from happening.

Naming the right trustee is one of several important considerations when creating and funding a special needs trust. Working with an attorney who has experience in this specific area of law may be of critical importance to your family.

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Kevin Tharpe

With 25 years of experience, Kevin understands how estate planning, special needs planning, and government benefits programs work together. This is a crucial element of a thorough plan. He explains your eligibility for benefits programs and ensures that you do not make costly mistakes that may disqualify you or deplete your assets.

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