Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Special Needs Trust Part 2: Trustee Appointment

The following is Part 2 of last week's post titled Special Needs Trust Part 1: Planning Ahead.

In addition to the Special Needs Trust, there are other financial and legal considerations to be made concerning people with disabilities. As with any trust, a trustee must be appointed to oversee the assets held in trust. Often this is a parent of the individual with the disability. However, a growing concern for many is that the individual with the disability may outlive their parents thanks to improvements in treatment and care. So, decisions should be made as to who will serve as trustee in that scenario. 
Separately, a choice of guardian or caregiver also needs to be made. Again, this is typically one or both parents while they are alive. It is important to note here that every individual, regardless of ability, is deemed to have the legal rights of an adult once over the age of eighteen. So, even the individual’s parents need to petition the court in order to be named a lifetime guardian.

It is equally important to determine the viable caregivers for the individual with a disability if they should outlive their parent(s) or current guardian(s). It is frequently a wise decision to have distinct parties to serve as trustee and guardian as this can provide a system of checks and balances, ensuring the proper care, both physically and financially, for the individual with disability or special needs.

Another important document to have in place, aside from the Will and Trust, is a Letter of Intent. This would provide all the necessary information and instructions for the caregiver including doctors, prescriptions and other medicines, routines and schedules, exercises, contacts, etc. The trustee must also be aware of what this letter contains.

It goes without saying that caring for an individual with disability and/or special needs requires considerable effort. It is equally important that proper steps be taken to ensure for that level of care – both physically and financially – for the duration of the individual’s life. If we at Kemp and Associates can help in any way, please feel free to contact us directly.


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