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What special duties does a special needs trustee have?

On Behalf of | Mar 6, 2021 | Estate Planning

The brilliance of a special needs trust is that it provides funds for the beneficiary to use on certain supplemental expenses while preserving his or her eligibility for means-tested government financial assistance. If your loved one qualifies for Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid or other similar programs, you may want to include a special needs trust in your overall estate plan.

After setting up and funding a special needs trust, you must select a trustee to oversee it. Naturally, this trustee is responsible for ordinary recordkeeping, tax and reporting duties. The trustee may also perform other special duties that may provide an immediate benefit to your loved one.

Preserving eligibility for government help

Arguably, the most important role of any special needs trustee is ensuring the beneficiary continues to remain eligible for financial assistance from the government. Because using special needs trust funds on basic living expenses and medical care may make your loved one ineligible for government help, the trustee must understand program rules and scrutinize all proposed disbursements from the trust.

Investing the trust’s resources

With savvy investing, the special needs trust may have more assets for the beneficiary to use. Therefore, the special needs trustee should have an investment strategy. If he or she delegates investment duties to someone else, the trustee should closely monitor investment activities to ensure they align with the trust’s objectives.

Finding additional services

The trustee should know both the beneficiary and his or her disabilities. If your loved one is not receiving the care or services he or she needs, the trustee may play a role in accessing them. Ultimately, if you worry your loved one may fail to thrive after your death, knowing the special needs trustee is looking out for his or her interests may calm your fears.