Monday, February 5, 2007

Establishing Trustee

It is one thing to leave resources to a trust, and it is quite another to manage them in such a way as to last the lifetime of the person with the disability. Every trust must have a trustee, someone who will manage the trust's assets. As most special needs trusts are established to provide supplementary assistance, they are generally quite small by bank standards. Ideally, it would be nice to have a local bank manage the trust resources, while taking a personal interest in the individual with the disability. Failing the location of a warm and loving trust officer, at least the bank would manage the funds and hire a social worker to look after the individual. Sadly, very few banks are willing to manage cash assets under $150,000 to $200,000 or become as involved in the person's life as you would wish.

In the case of a living trust and where there are sufficient funds and relatives, the family usually nominates future or successor trustees to manage the trust after the parents die or go into a nursing home. Families may even nominate a group of people to serve as joint trustees -- several relatives, perhaps -- who together administer the trust. It is important to list an advocacy or disability organization as the last successor trustee. This is because the possibility exists that the human successor trustees will die before the person with the disability. In the event that the human successor trustees are unable to serve, then the advocacy or disability organization may take on the responsibility or be able to recommend someone in their group who could do so. Of course, it is important to discuss this with the disability or advocacy group and obtain consent before listing the organization as a future trustee.

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