Do I Really Need A Professional Trustee For My Special Needs Trust? (Page 2)

In situations in which there is no family member who is willing and able to serve as co-trustee, a recommended alternative is to name a family member, friend, or colleague as a Trust Protector. The role of the Trust Protector is to remove the existing professional trustee and replace them with a new professional trustee should the need arise. This removal power is not allowed to be granted to the beneficiary of a Special Needs Trust.

A family should expect their Special Needs Trust to pay fees to the trustee(s) of the Special Needs Trust regardless of whether or not the trustee is a family member, a professional individual trustee, or a corporate trustee. Assuming that a family member will serve for free is a mistake. While some family members may initially serve as trustee for free, their opinions about fees often change once they fully understand the complexity and amount of work involved. In evaluating trustee fees, most often you get what you pay for. Professional trustees charge fees because they understand the importance of their roles and the value of their services. Saving hundreds of dollars in trustee fees may seem like a great strategy; however, losing governmental benefits because the trust was administered incorrectly can be a far more costly matter.

We believe there is a role for family members to play in the support and care of the family member with special needs. They can be companions, advocates, caregivers, or take on the legal roles of guardian or agent under various powers of attorney. While few family members possess all the skills required of a special needs trustee, many have the ability to be valuable in one of these other roles. If the trust beneficiary has difficulty communicating, it is essential to have a caregiver who can effectively communicate the needs of the beneficiary to the trustee. In discussing these various roles with family members, it is important to make sure that the family members you are considering for the roles are comfortable with what will be expected of them.

Oak Wealth Advisors is happy to assist families in considering their options and communicating their special needs planning with their relatives. We frequently make referrals to professional trustees. We want to provide our clients with the peace of mind that the Special Needs Trusts that they have created will deliver all the intended benefits. We also are happy to provide families with lists of permissible distributions from a Special Needs Trust in an effort to help their special needs trustees avoid making disqualifying distributions.

These recommendations are provided solely as a reference and are not intended to replace counseling from qualified professionals. Please contact Oak Wealth Advisors if you would like more information about our services for families with special needs members.