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Here’s why a professional trustee — not family — may be better for a special needs trust

| Feb 11, 2021 | Trust Administration |

You’ve got a tight-knit family and you’ve always taken care of your own, so the whole idea of asking a stranger to manage your disabled adult child’s special needs trust makes you wildly uncomfortable.

Just the same, it may be far wiser to go with a professional trustee than your own kin for this job.

What’s the problem with putting a family member in charge of a special needs trust?

One problem you may encounter is that different family members may have different ideas about how your disabled child’s affairs should be handled. That can lead to major family fights.

That’s the least of your concerns, however. Where special needs trusts are concerned, it’s important for your trustee to have a working knowledge of  the interplay between public benefit programs and the rules governing the trust. A wrong move could cost your disabled child important benefits.

The job of a special needs trustee is also pretty broad — and time-consuming. The trustee may need to manage your disabled child’s Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid benefits in addition to the trust. They will have to help your disabled child find housing, medical care and transportation. The relative you choose for that job may not be up to the task.

Finally, a trust company or law firm that acts as a trustee comes with an automatic back-up plan. If you use a relative, they could suddenly be unable to perform their duties due to illness, a job change, a move or some other reason. With a professional trustee, you know that your disabled child will never suffer a gap in their care.

If you’re trying to sort out your options for appointing a trustee, it may be helpful to discuss all of your choices with a professional advocate. Special needs trusts come with a lot of complex rules and conditions, and it’s best to get some guidance.