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3 ways trustees can impact the life of someone with special needs

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2023 | Probate And Trust Administration

Those who care for a child or adult with special needs may eventually decide to fund a special needs trust. Those thinking about the future needs of a family member with special needs often worry about setting aside enough resources for their care and imposing the right limitations on when someone can access those resources.

Not only do parents or guardians need to set aside enough resources to improve someone’s standard of living for years, but they also need to select someone to serve as trustee. A trustee must manage the assets used to fund a special needs trust and also has responsibility for distributing those resources when appropriate. Their role is not just administrative. They can provide three crucial types of support for the beneficiary of the trust.

They can provide social support and guidance

A child or adult with special needs who has just lost their parent will likely struggle when trying to adjust. They may require regular support, as they may have difficulty making choices about their life or managing their relationships. A trustee can regularly interact with the beneficiary of a special needs trust to help ensure they have the support they need.

They can guard against financial abuse

Someone with special needs is very vulnerable to the manipulations or abuses of others. There are plenty of people, possibly even including family members, who would happily mistreat someone with special needs for access to their resources. Trustees can monitor how someone lives and what relationships they have to ensure that other people aren’t manipulating the beneficiary into misusing the resources set aside for their comfort and protection. They can also call state attention to financial abuse, which could lead to criminal prosecution.

They can help maximize someone’s standard of living

One of the reasons that people put together special needs trusts instead of granting a lump-sum inheritance is a desire to protect an individual’s eligibility for benefits. A variety of different state benefits, including medical and housing benefits, end abruptly if an individual receives a large amount of capital all at once.

A trustee can help oversee the distribution of resources to ensure that someone doesn’t lose their benefits. They can also play a supportive role by helping a beneficiary maintain state benefits. Trustees can maintain a better grasp on the big picture situation in many cases and can help a beneficiary maximize their overall quality of life given the resources and benefits available to them.

Recognizing how important a trustee is when creating a special needs trust may help people hone in on the ideal candidate to serve in this role.