If one of your relatives has a disability or other special needs that make it difficult to work, he or she may have a hard time existing as an adult. Fortunately, government programs often provide meaningful benefits to those who cannot support themselves financially.
When preparing your estate plan, it may be important to resist the temptation to give cash or other gifts to your disabled relative. After all, according to the American Bar Association, your bequest may force him or her over the income limits for means-tested government benefits.
Setting up a special needs trust
For many caring Americans, setting up a special needs trust is the solution. With this important estate planning tool, you give your relative access to money without jeopardizing his or her eligibility for government help.
Picking a trustee
Naming a trustee to oversee the trust is one of the more important tasks you must accomplish when forming your special needs trust. As you may suspect, not every person you know is likely to make a good trustee. Therefore, when picking yours, you may want to ask the following questions:
- Do you have the necessary recordkeeping, reporting and investment skills?
- Can you help the beneficiary access needed services?
- Are you familiar with means-tested government programs?
- Do you have time to approve disbursements from the trust?
- Are you willing to act as the trustee for a long time?
Remember, you have the option of picking a professional to be your trustee. This is not essential, though, as private individuals often have unique skill sets that make them excellent trustees. Ultimately, to ensure your special needs trust is as successful as possible, you must take your obligation to choose the right trustee seriously.